By U.S. Army Cyber CommandApril 18, 2018
FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- A U.S. Army Cyber Command employee whose quick response may have saved a colleague's life has been honored by the Army for his actions.
Randy Clark of ARCYBER's Information Operations Division accepted the Army Safety Guardian Award at an April 11 ceremony here for his actions in rescuing a coworker who was choking.
Clark and Patrick Heil, an information operations plans officer with 1st Information Operations Command (Land) who assisted during the incident, described what happened.
During a temporary duty mission in the state of Washington, Clark, Heil and a third colleague, Scott Eisenbach, were having dinner at a restaurant Clark says he remembered from his time stationed in the area in the 1990s.
Halfway through dinner, Clark saw that Eisenbach was in distress.
"I looked up and saw that Scott was choking on his food," Clark wrote in an email. "At first Patrick didn't see it because he was also eating. I pointed it out to him and asked him to start the Heimlich (maneuver)."
Heil said he stood Eisenbach up and attempted to perform the maneuver to clear his airway, but after a dozen attempts Eisenbach was still choking. At that point Clark took over. He moved Eisenbach to a more open area of the room and continued trying to administer the Heimlich. It took another two dozen thrusts before Eisenbach's airway finally cleared.
"I gave him several thrusts, which at first didn't seem to be working, as his face began turning colors," Clark wrote. "I was about to put him on the floor and try to dislodge the food with my fingers when I gave one last thrust."
"I know it was scary for him, but I think it was just as scary for me," Clark added. "I thought in my head over and over while this was going on that I can't let anything happen to him, and I was not going to have to explain losing him to his wife."
Fortunately he wouldn't have to.
"As I was trying to get him to the floor, Scott raised his hands in a signal that he was beginning to get his breath back," Clark said. "He coughed really hard a couple of times and the food came out of his mouth. People in the restaurant that just seemed to watch while everything was going on began to clap. After Scott recovered for a few more seconds, we returned to the table and finished dinner."
Clark's awareness and decisive action were critical in acting quickly and saving precious time to save Eisenbach's life, Heil said. Given the difficulty of dislodging the obstruction, he added, it seemed unlikely that anyone on the scene but Clark would have been able to successfully perform the Heimlich on their colleague.
Clark was presented with the Safety Guardian Award, a Department of the Army-level honor given to Army military and civilian personnel who, "through extraordinary actions or skills", prevent or minimize injury or loss to Army people or property by reacting to emergency events or imminent danger, by ARCYBER commander Lt. Gen. Paul M. Nakasone.
The award, signed by Brig. Gen. David J. Francis, commander of the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center and director of Army Safety, applauds Clark for his quick thinking and exceptional response and "demonstrating the highest standards of our Army Values and Warrior Ethos."
But Clark said he doesn't feel he did anything exceptional.
"I'm very happy that things turned out the way they did, but didn't think I was doing anything to receive so much attention," he wrote. "Having my friend and coworker around another day was the only reward needed."