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Hanscom defender saves a life

  • Published
  • By Lauren Russell
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – An average day on the job quickly turned to a matter of life or death for one Hanscom defender, whose fast action saved the life of a subcontractor who suffered a heart attack while on base.

On Jan. 23, Staff Sgt. Humphrey Chadbourne, 66th Security Forces Squadron, was filling diesel cans on his routine patrol when the emergency notification came through the radio: there was an unresponsive male in an office building. 

According to the staff members, the contractor began gasping for breath when they heard him hit the ground. That’s when they called first responders. Chadbourne arrived only seconds later.

“I didn’t realize the gravity of the situation until I got there,” said Chadbourne, a Phillipston, Massachusetts, native. “By the time I arrived, he was totally unresponsive.”

The man on the ground wasn’t breathing, and Chadbourne knew time was ticking away. Without hesitating, he instructed a bystander to call for emergency medical technicians, and immediately began performing CPR.

“It’s surreal. You’re kneeling over someone who may or may not be dead already, but you’re not going to write them off,” he said. “I wasn’t giving up.”

After several minutes, EMTs from the Hanscom AFB Fire Department relieved Chadbourne. He ran to get the automated external defibrillator from his cruiser, and continued to assist work with EMTs as they worked to revive the victim’s heart.

Just as quickly as the call had come in, medics transported the victim to an off base facility and Chadbourne returned to the defender’s operation center to hand off his report.

“I was shocked when we got the call for an unresponsive person,” said Tech. Sgt. David Turner, 66 SFS flight sergeant and Chadbourne’s supervisor. “However, I am very confident in Chadbourne’s ability to handle medical emergencies, and that day was no different.”

Turner said Chadbourne had instructed a squadron training session on medical emergency responses just days earlier.  

“He definitely proved to our younger Airmen that they should pay attention to our training, because you never know when you’ll need to use it,” he said.

On Feb. 10, Gen. Arnold W. Bunch Jr., Air Force Materiel Command commander, presented Chadbourne with the Air Force Achievement Medal for his rapid and decisive actions, which ultimately saved the victim’s life.

“Thankfully this type of incident doesn’t happen often, but when it does and a life is saved, we felt a medal was well deserved,” said Turner.

Chadbourne, who will deploy later this year, said he was proud to have been able to lead his own Airmen by example. 

“I want to cement in my Airmen’s minds they should take our job and our training seriously,” he said. “Everyone relies on us.”