A Fort Drum Soldier recently proved that selfless service and calm under pressure can be displayed at any time, even during a routine trip to the bank.
AmeriCU Credit Union hosted a ceremony July 11 at the Fort Drum branch to honor Staff Sgt. Dean Cullum, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, for his efforts that saved a life.
Cullum was inside the branch June 17 when someone ran through the doors yelling, "There is a medical emergency. Does anyone know CPR'"
Without hesitation, Cullum ran outside and found a woman, Michelle Costa, hysterical because her baby was having a grand mal seizure and was not breathing.
"He had just been giggling in his car seat a minute before, and when I turned around again, he was having a seizure," Costa said about her 18-month-old son Liam. "My husband dialed 911, and I started rubbing his chest, but his lips were turning blue. That is when I panicked and started screaming for help."
At that point, Cullum showed up. He removed Liam from the car seat, did a quick assessment, turned him on his side and started rubbing his chest to get him to breathe.
Once Liam started breathing and crying, Cullum helped to calm Costa. He made stayed with them until paramedics arrived.
"Sgt. Cullum's demeanor made a difference - he just took charge," Costa said. "My husband stayed on the phone with the 911 operator, and Cullum gave him the information to keep the emergency personnel informed on what was going on."
"When I got out there, I saw (Cullum) providing medical assistance to an infant in the back of an SUV. And at the same time, he was calming the mother," said Tina Wildhaber, AmeriCU Credit Union regional manager. "He was doing all of it in a very calm manner."
Cullum said he knew how to help because the same thing happened to both of his daughters when they were the same age.
"I'm just amazed and thankful," Costa said. "Had he not done what he did, my son could have irreversible brain damage or even be dead from prolonged lack of oxygen."
"We're just so thankful that he was here," Wildhaber said. "We don't want to think of what may have happened if he wasn't, and he deserves recognition for his act of extreme kindness."
Credit union representatives presented Cullum with an honorary plaque and a gift basket for his efforts, and Col. David B. Haight, 3rd Brigade Combat Team commander, awarded him with an Army Commendation Medal.
Lt. Col. Daniel Goldthorpe, Cullum's squadron commander, said he was the perfect person to be there at that moment.
"We have a little baby alive today because of this man - it just doesn't get any better than that," Goldthorpe said. "He keeps his head in crisis situations and always does the right thing."
The mother has since reported that Liam is doing well but is being checked out by a specialist to determine the cause of the seizure.
Cullum said the decision to help that day was a no-brainer.
"I'd do it again tomorrow if I had to," he said. "It's what we're trained to do."
"Other people were walking and driving by while I was hysterically screaming, and no one wanted to get involved, but (Cullum) did," Costa said. "The Army needs more Soldiers like him, and the world needs more people like him."