FORT LEE, Va. – Two Army drill sergeants received recognition at a Feb. 24 ceremony here for decisive actions that saved the life of an advanced individual training Soldier.
Staff Sgt. Marcus A. Robbins and Staff Sgt. Shawn T. Williams from the 244th Quartermaster Battalion rendered medical assistance to a military student discovered unconscious and not breathing Feb. 10 in his barracks room.
The two AIT students -- Pvt. Jaquan Adams and PFC Robert Carillo -- who alerted the drill sergeants, and Fort Lee Fire and Emergency Services personnel who rapidly responded to the incident also were acknowledged during the ceremony conducted in the unit’s multipurpose room.
The Guardian Battalion’s senior leaders, Lt. Col. Michael J. Martin and Command Sgt. Maj. Alvin Gardner, presented the honors. Capt. Vene Crutcher, Golf Co. commander, hosted the ceremony. She thanked those who aided the student, saying their “personal courage and quick and decisive actions … were essential in saving the life of a fellow Soldier.”
The incident began at 4:45 a.m., prior to the first formation of the day, Robbins recounted.
“A few Soldiers came running downstairs saying a Soldier had passed out,” the Golf Company NCO said. “I took the elevator upstairs (to the fifth floor), and when I got there, I saw a bunch of Soldiers gathered in the hallway. They said the victim was not breathing.”
Robbins immediately confirmed the individual was unresponsive and looked as though he had fallen.
“Blood was all around the floor,” he recalled, noting the Soldier had gashes on his forehead, chin and tongue.”
Further checks confirmed the individual was not breathing and did not have a pulse.
“My immediate response was to call the (medical) authorities,” said the 33-year-old, “then I told a Soldier to get the AED.”
Automatic external defibrillators are portable, interactive devices used to treat those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest or other conditions causing the heart to stop beating. AEDs are installed in most administrative buildings and barracks across post.
Williams – assigned to Alpha Co., the students of which reside in the same barracks – arrived on the scene and retraced Robbins’ steps, checking again for breathing, pulse and diaphragm movement. The AED confirmed there was no pulse.
“After that, he immediately began mouth-to-mouth (resuscitation) and CPR on the Soldier,” said Robbins.
“I continued with the compressions and breathing until the AED told me to shock him three times,” said 30-year-old Williams. “So, we shocked the Soldier (three times) and continued to perform CPR.”
Moments after the third shock, FES personnel showed up and relieved the drill sergeants.
The Soldier was rushed to an area hospital. He was treated and released Feb. 17. His duty status is unknown.
In retrospect, Robbins said during the emergency he never thought about anything but performing his duties.
“Honestly, I wasn’t thinking about whether the Soldier was going to live or die,” said the Washington, D.C. native. “I just knew he needed help, and we needed to give him that help, and that’s what we did.”
Williams and Robbins learned how to operate AEDs during their Drill Sergeant Academy training at Fort Jackson, S.C. Williams said the incident reaffirms how important that block of instruction is.
“It goes to show that even though some training may seem unnecessary to some at the time, we still need to be paying attention to what we’re doing,” said the St. Louis native. “A lot of people were not giving their full effort during my CPR class, and if I had given little effort that day, that Soldier might not have lived. There’s a bigger picture to all of this. That could be your battle buddy one day.”
Robbins and Williams were submitted for awards, and if approved, will be recognized at a separate ceremony in the near future.