By Reginald Rogers/ParaglideMarch 12, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - When Spc. Daniel Conrad saw Sgt. William Mortenson struggling on the treadmill at the Iron Mike Physical Fitness Center, he knew something was wrong.
Conrad, a trained combat lifesaver, assigned to the 1st Squadron, 7th Air Defense Artillery Battalion's Rear Detachment element, was on assignment to the facility as a temporary gym assistant.
"As I went to the back and walked in the cardio room, I saw that the individual looked very flushed in the face and he started looking pale," Conrad explained. "He tried stepping down and starting to sit down. I walked over to him and asked if he was okay and he could barely answer me. He was in and out of consciousness, so I looked for medical alert tags, but he had none on him."
Conrad said that in between fainting spells, Mortenson, who is assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion, managed to tell him that he had a prior neck injury during his last deployment. He also explained that his neck and back were hurting.
It was at that time that Conrad said he noticed that Mortenson's body temperature was hot, but he was not sweating.
"He wasn't sweating at all and you could feel the heat coming off of him," explained Conrad, a veteran of nearly two years. "So I went to get my first aid pack and I iced him down and sent someone to go get the civilian (facilities' sports assistant), who was on duty at the time.
"After we stabilized him and I held his neck to make sure he didn't move around too much, ... I had someone go get a medic and he came and someone called 9-1-1 and we kept him stable until they arrived," said Conrad adding that he knew from experience that Special Forces medics often worked out at the PFC.
Facility Manager Fanown Ruff said she was pleased with the way Conrad, who was working under her supervision at the time, responded, as well as Mackey's actions in overseeing the situation.
"It was a great feeling," Ruff said. "Morale, Welfare and Recreation makes it a point to ensure that the staff is trained, but very rarely do we have the opportunity to make sure that the Soldiers that we get are adequately trained, especially as a combat lifesaver. To have one on duty and to have him calmly respond in such a fast and quick manner is impressive."
Conrad attributes the quick response of the post's first responders and his combat lifesaver's training to Mortenson's well being. He said the emergency medical technicians arrived within five minutes of the call being placed.
Sergeant 1st Class Vincent Branchetti, Conrad's rear detachment first sergeant agreed with his Soldier.
"The training absolutely played a part," Branchetti said. "It just takes over. That's the repetitive training that he kept up with, kept in his mind and he executed the mission."
Conrad added that being able to assist Mortenson is even more special to him because he is a fellow Soldier.
"It feels outstanding that I could do my part," he said, "They teach us to look out for each other and it feels good that I could accomplish that."
But he added that regardless of whether Mortenson was a Soldier or not, just being able to help any person in need is of equal importance.
"It makes me feel good that I was able to help someone," said the Elizabeth, N.J. native. "At the time, I didn't think is was a big deal. I just saw someone who needed assistance and I assisted him. I just acted on instinct. I didn't really think it through, I just wanted to take care of him and make sure he would be okay."