FORT KNOX, Ky. - People taking the time to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation, no matter how long ago, is the reason a Soldier here is alive and well.

Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Fitzback, of Fort Knox's Company B, Warrior Transition Unit, decided to visit his fellow Soldiers and friends at 1st Battalion, 81st Armor Regiment Nov. 16. During his visit Fitzback munched on a piece of Twizzler candy when became lodged in his throat. He began choking.

"Spc. (Brent) Short and (Air Force Reserve Staff Sgt. James) Hastings got me a soda to wash things down," Fitzback recalled.

After drinking the soda, Fitzback believed he was okay and decided to leave. He walked to his truck and said the last thing he remembered was sitting inside its cab.

Hastings and Spc. Adam Coleman noticed he seemed a little off-center. Coleman said Fitzback wasn't acting normal as he watched him walk to his truck.

"Normally, when Sgt 1st Class Fitzback gets in his truck, he always texts on his cell phone," said Coleman. "I went to his truck and yelled for someone to call 911."

Fitzback had passed out and wasn't breathing. The candy was still lodged in his throat.

Linwood Young, the unit's training technician, said he heard Coleman yelling and Hastings asked Marine Pvt. Robert Miller, who was outside working on a detail, if he knew how to apply CPR.

Miller and Kirk Guin, the unit's supply technician, performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compressions.

Although Miller had received training on performing CPR, he said he was a bit nervous.

"I was thinking, 'Is this going to work like it is in the books'' " said Miller.

"I think Mr. Hastings was instrumental in making us aware," said Young. "As military personnel and a member of the human race you do what needs to be done. That's what we are supposed to do in God's eyes."

Hastings added that it was a team effort in saving Fitzback's life. Even though he had never performed CPR before that day, he was thankful that he learned it while serving in the military.

"I never used it before," Hastings said. "The biggest thing is noticing a problem and not blowing it off."

Hastings also said after seeing CPR performed to save someone's life he will be more observant and watchful for signs when a person isn't feeling well or possibly choking.

"Having seen it in real life I will be able to react a lot sooner," he said.

Sgt. Lee Quay of 1-81 said when Soldiers are taught CPR and other first aid tasks many believe it will be used on the battlefield to save their battle buddy.

"Combat lifesaving teaches this could happen to someone," said Quay. "It's not just for the battlefield."

Fitzback was hospitalized for two days for routine observation. He said his friends told him he was down and not breathing for about four minutes.

"If they (hadn't seen) me you would be hearing a different outcome," he said.

Although he was choking on the candy, Fiztback isn't sure why he didn't give the universal sign for choking.

"I was able to say something so I figured I could breathe," said Fitzback.

Fitzback said he is eternally grateful to his buddies.

"I wasn't breathing and from what I heard they were directly responsible for saving my life," Fitzback said. "You don't have to be on the battlefield to be a hero."

Page last updated Fri December 11th, 2009 at 16:16