By Sgt. 1st Class Corey BealDecember 13, 2016
KUMAMOTO, Japan -- No one expects to be a first responder to a medical emergency, but that is exactly what happened to three I Corps Soldiers during a cultural excursion while supporting exercise Yama Sakura, an annual bilateral training exercise between the U.S. and Japan Ground Self Defense Force.
Fortunately, the Soldiers on scene Dec. 1 were Army combat medics Sgt. Mario Ratto, Spc. Sandy Rushing and Pfc. Jonathan Fish.
"We were just standing at the tram station waiting get back to post, when we saw a group of people standing around somebody in the middle of the road," said Rotto.
That's when the three sprang into action.
"We ran over there and saw an elderly Japanese man lying face down on the road," said Rushing. "There was blood on the ground and he was just lying there face down. It looked like he was dead. He was not moving at all - I thought the guy was dead."
"Private Fish was right behind me and I had him check for any additional injuries before we turned him over," said Rushing. "We kind of tag teamed it and log rolled him over onto his back while keeping his C-spine stable."
"There was so much blood on his face and broken teeth in his mouth," said Fish who had only recently completed Advanced Individual Training.
"We then saw that his airway was obstructed - he had fallen on his face and broken some teeth and had quite a bit of blood everywhere," said Rushing. "We repositioned his airway and cleared his airway pulling broken teeth out of his mouth."
That's when the elderly man started regaining consciousness.
"He didn't say anything, but you could tell he was starting to come back," said Fish.
Fortunate to the situation, Rushing speaks Japanese and was able to communicate with the elderly man in attempts to keep him conscious.
"He kept trying to fall asleep," said Rushing. "So, I kept telling him wake up, keep your eyes open, and look at me."
Meanwhile, Ratto assisted from side while keeping them safe from oncoming traffic as his Soldiers aided the man in the middle of the street.
"When the EMTs arrived, I told them we were also EMTs," said Rushing. "They asked me what happened and I told them what we knew."
The Japanese EMTs quickly took over the situation as more ambulances arrived. The three Soldiers then made their way back to Camp Kengun from a night they won't soon forget.
"I thought my two Soldiers responded really well," said Ratto. "They did everything they were supposed to do - they just performed excellently. If anything like this ever happened again, I wouldn't think twice that my Soldiers couldn't handle it."
"I did my job - I did what I've been trained to do," said Fish. "I just hope the guy is okay."