By Kristin Molinaro, The BayonetJanuary 12, 2011
FORT BENNING, Ga. - A trip to the Main Post PX put Likedia Martinez in the right place at the right time to save a Soldier's life Dec. 28.
Driving down Dixie Road on her lunch break, Martinez was behind a pick-up truck driving unusually slowly. Martinez was headed to grab a snack at the PX's food court.
When the truck in front of her veered into the oncoming lane and slowly off the road, Martinez knew something was wrong and turned on her hazard lights.
"Thank God he wasn't speeding, or it could've been a lot worse," said Martinez, who watched as oncoming cars approached.
She called out to construction workers nearby asking if it was one of their vehicles. They said "no" and then Martinez saw the truck leave the roadway and drive into a ditch near the golf course.
Martinez took action. She pulled off the road to a stop, hopped out of her car and ran up to the truck's driver side. The truck was still moving and Martinez saw a Soldier slumped over.
"His hands were clutched tight into fists, his eyes were rolled back in his head and he was shaking," said Martinez, who realized the Soldier was having a seizure.
She opened the door, climbed into the truck, put it in park and turned the engine off.
Tilting his head back, Martinez kept the Soldier's airway open, as she'd been taught in the cardiopulmonary resuscitation class she had taken less than two weeks prior.
Martinez said she'd volunteered to attend the CPR class offered through her job as an accounting clerk with ITT Systems on post. The class touched on what to do if you encounter someone in a seizure and Martinez said she recalled the instructors saying, "Give them room and make sure they aren't in an area where they could hurt or injure themselves or hit their head."
Martinez stayed with the Soldier until he came to. Passers-by contacted the military police. A sergeant stayed with Martinez until the MPs arrived.
"When he came to, (the MPs) asked him where he thought he was; he said, 'Arizona,' and my heart dropped," Martinez said. "He was clearly out of it."
Martinez said being at the right place at the right time was a stroke of luck, since she mostly avoids Dixie Road because of the construction and traffic.
For her efforts, Martinez's co-workers presented her with a company duffel bag filled with her favorite snacks and a coin. Her CPR instructors presented her with a gift card.
Martinez said she admits she hadn't expected her new CPR skills to be tested so soon, but was thankful she followed her instincts when she followed the slow-moving vehicle.
"I felt like I was trained for the situation. I was ready for it," the accounting clerk said. "I think if I had not had the training I don't know how I would've reacted to the situation."
Martinez said she hopes to have the opportunity to meet the Soldier and find out how he's doing. In the rush to treat him, she never got his name and said she doubts he would remember who she was.