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Peterson Airman saves life of unconscious train passenger

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Joe Partoll, 21st Aerospace Medicine Squadron environmental engineer, helped save a stranger’s life by using the CPR training he received at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., on a young man lying unconscious on the floor of the train Aug. 21, 2016. Partoll worked alongside three other individuals on the train to keep a fellow passenger alive. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Joe Partoll, 21st Aerospace Medicine Squadron environmental engineer, helped save a stranger’s life by using the CPR training he received at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., on a young man lying unconscious on the floor of the train Aug. 21, 2016. Partoll worked alongside three other individuals on the train to keep a fellow passenger alive. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Joe Partoll, 21st Aerospace Medicine Squadron environmental engineer, practices chest compressions on a CPR dummy at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Sept. 9, 2016. Partoll has been CPR certified since he began working at Peterson AFB in 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Joe Partoll, 21st Aerospace Medicine Squadron environmental engineer, practices chest compressions on a CPR dummy at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Sept. 9, 2016. Partoll has been CPR certified since he began working at Peterson AFB in 2008. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Originally from the Chicago area, Joe Partoll is a big Cubs fan. Like many of the Chicagoans living in Colorado, Partoll decided to go to Denver to cheer the Cubs on as they faced the Rockies.

After a devastating loss to his beloved Cubs, Partoll, 21st Aerospace Medicine Squadron bioenvironmental engineer, headed to the train station to catch the Light Rail home. Even though he just spent hours watching a baseball game, Partoll had no idea he was on deck to face one of life’s unexpected curveballs.

“I was sitting down, when all of a sudden I hear a big crash behind me,” said Partoll. “When I looked behind me, I saw a gentleman lying on the floor. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but then I heard someone yell, ‘Call 9-1-1!’”

Kicking aside the initial shock of the situation, Partoll helped save a life that day by using training he received at Peterson Air Force Base and performed CPR on a young man lying unconscious on the floor of the train Aug. 21.

Amid all the confusion and immediacy of the situation, he said he felt a little hesitation about jumping in, but was comforted knowing there was a nurse leading the charge.

“Initially I hesitated when the nurse asked me to do chest compressions,” said Partoll. “She, of course, jumped in and began, but not long after that I knew I needed to contribute so I took over the chest compressions.”

Approximately 15 minutes later and once the train stopped, emergency responders hopped on the train and took control of the situation, eventually transporting the young man to a nearby hospital.

“After everything happened and the ambulance took him away, I then went and waited at the hospital,” said Partoll. “Knowing that I was a part of the life-saving efforts, I wanted to know how everything was going for him and what his condition was.”

Following his arrival to the hospital and waiting for a bit, Partoll said he learned the stranger he gave chest compressions to and fought hard to keep alive suffered from a heart attack, but was in a stabilized condition with a positive outlook on recovery.

Partoll, alongside the team of passengers, was responsible for saving this man’s life by responding quickly to an emergency situation. Partoll said he relied heavily on the nurse’s guidance, his fellow responders and the training he has received at Peterson AFB.

“It was comforting knowing there was a medical professional there,” said Partoll. “I am also glad I had training in CPR so I was able to contribute because without it, I don’t know if I would have been able to respond.”

Because Partoll is a part of the 21st Medical Group, he has to recertify his CPR training every two years. He has been certified since he began working here in 2008.

“I’m an engineer,” said Partoll. “I used to think the chances of me being involved in anything like this was way too small. Since then, I have a stronger relationship to the trainings and I stress the importance of the training to my colleagues.”

CPR trainings are important because each year more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States. According to the American Heart Association, when a person has a cardiac arrest, survival depends on immediately getting CPR from someone nearby. Almost 90 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. CPR, especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

Thanks to the training Peterson AFB provided, Partoll was able to extend himself in a situation that saved a young man’s life. As members of Team Pete, Airmen share a responsibility to lend themselves in times of duress or emergency situations.

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