It is every Airman’s responsibility to perform regular exercise routines in order to stay ‘fit to fight.’ Few have experienced a workout like U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Ronald Ebert, first sergeant, 140th Mission Support Group, 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard, did June 1, 2020.
Ebert, an avid runner and fitness coach, was leading a workout at his local gym when one of the athletes unexpectedly fell to the ground.
“When he initially collapsed I thought that he had just passed out,” Ebert said. “It looked like he went down fairly smoothly, so I wasn’t overly concerned.”
However, after several seconds passed and the athlete remained unresponsive, Ebert and some of the other gym members quickly took action.
“After attempting to wake him up by fanning and rubbing his chest, he still wasn’t responding to anything,” Elbert’s wife, Alison, said. “He started to seize a little bit too, and at that point we decided to call 911.”
The athlete’s condition worsened, Alison said. “His pulse began to thread and then could no longer be found.” Two other athletes, a nurse and a medical student, began giving chest compressions and subsequently Ebert began administering mouth to mouth.
“Even though we didn’t have a mask in the first aid kit, it was an immediate decision for me that I would do mouth to mouth,” Ebert said. “The guy needed oxygen, and I had the opportunity to help.”
Ebert, formerly a first sergeant for the 140th Medical Group, had taken the same CPR class as medical providers.
“Having this training enabled me to know what to do in the situation,” Ebert said. “Thanks to my military training and experience, I was better able to stay calm and trust my training.”
According to Alison, Ebert displayed great command of the situation.
“Ron’s leadership was commendable,” she said. “Every person who was there contributed, whether it was directly administering to the patient or putting weights away so the paramedics would have a clear path, there was never any panic or hysteria.”
Emergency responders revived the patient and took him to the hospital. It was determined he suffered a heart attack.
“The doctors told him he only had a five percent chance of survival in this type of situation,” Ebert said. “He was very fortunate to have trained people around him who didn’t hesitate to respond quickly.”
“The family was extremely thankful that CPR was initiated so quickly,” Alison said, “because it likely saved the gentleman’s life.”
From this experience, Ebert learned “that nothing happens exactly like the scenarios you practice, and it also reinforced the potential for this to happen to anyone, including those who are relatively young and active,” he said.
Fortunately, in this scenario, there is a happy ending.
“He came by the gym to visit a few days ago,” Ebert said. “It made me feel very good to see him in person for the first time.”