Quick-thinking Fort Lewis Soldier saves young girl
April 10, 2009
By Don Kramer
FORT LEWIS, Wash. - Military heroes these days are mostly associated with performing extraordinary feats in combat. But one Fort Lewis Soldier earned the title, along with an Army Commendation Medal, by reacting to a crisis while driving home at the end of a typical duty day.
As a result of his actions, a 7-year-old Lacey, Wash., girl has a second chance at life thanks to Pvt. 1st Class Seth Manderscheid of 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
One minute on the afternoon of March 17, Manderscheid of C Battery, 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, was on Pacific Avenue in Lacey, slowing behind a school bus, stopped to drop off grade-school students. The next he was performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in the middle of the street to save a girl's life.
As Manderscheid stopped well behind the bus, he saw the red warning lights flash and the miniature stop sign on the side of the bus pop out. Children jumped from the last step, turned and began crossing Pacific in front of the bus.
But the young artilleryman from Mankato, Minn., saw the car directly behind the bus and ahead of him accelerate to pass. He estimated it was doing about 30 mph when it hit the girl, throwing her somewhere close to 30 feet from the impact.
Manderscheid bolted from his car and noted the 20-something driver who had just hit the grade schooler staring motionless, still behind the wheel. He ran to the girl lying unconscious in the street.
"I checked for a pulse," Manderscheid said. "There was no pulse. I looked to see if her chest was rising up and down. That wasn't happening either. So I did CPR."
The 1st Bn., 37th FA Soldier had recently earned a Combat Lifesaver Badge and knew exactly what he needed to do.
"I was just reacting, using what I've been taught," he said.
Someone dialed 911 and bystanders held the girl's understandably hysterical mother, keeping her on the sidewalk to allow Manderscheid to do his work. He lifted her head and tilted her chin to straighten an airway, then began rhythmic mouth-to-moth resuscitation for the five minutes until the ambulance arrived.
Paramedic Michael Theriault arrived to find the girl breathing and Manderscheid comforting the child. The emergency medical team took over, bagging her to maintain her breathing.
"Seth assisted me with getting the child on a back board and getting (her) into the ambulance," Theriault said. "The child ... only has a mild concussion with two broken ribs. Needless to say that if it were not for the actions of Seth Manderscheid, the child would not have survived."
Manderscheid stood and watched as the ambulance drove away, then proceeded home. He told his wife, Whitney, about the incident, but otherwise took it in stride.
He seemed genuinely surprised when on April Fools' Day he heard he was to receive an Army Commendation Medal for his actions in the middle of Pacific Ave. The following day his chain of command told him the Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. George W. Casey Jr. was coming to Fort Lewis and would pin the medal on his chest.
"It's pretty cool," he said, "pretty exciting."
"Seth is a hero," Theriault said. "I believe that you have one unbelievable Soldier."
Don Kramer is a reporter with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.