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Airman gives civilian second chance at life

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Marcy Copeland
  • 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

It was just another night out dancing July 3 for Staff Sgt. David Patton, 56th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron support section floor chief and his girlfriend, Ann Strasser, until the unthinkable happened.

Patton and Strasser frequent the Brookside 2 Bar and Grill to see their favorite country band and enjoy a night of music and dancing. The evening carried on as usual until Patton heard a woman screaming. He looked behind him and saw a man slumped in his chair lying on his arms. At first Patton thought the man may have had a bit too much to drink and that the woman was just upset with him. She then became more hysterical and that's when Patton walked toward the couple.

The woman was yelling that he was having a heart attack. Patton pulled out his phone and dialed 911. Talking to the dispatcher, he quickly positioned himself behind the man. Following the 911 dispatcher's instructions, Patton checked the man's pulse and found none. He lifted the man out of his chair and placed him on the floor on his back, positioning his head. The bar owner, Gary Erwin, ran to the man as Patton was getting him to the ground and began doing chest compressions.

Patton, following the instructions from the dispatcher, put his phone on speaker to relay instructions to both men. She helped the men keep tempo with chest compressions and reminded them of steps to take until the fire department and paramedics could arrive.

Gary continued to administer chest compressions. The men switched places and Patton continued to give the man cardiopulmonary resuscitation. They continued this process for five minutes until the Surprise Fire Department and Paramedics arrived on scene. From there, Patton helped clear the area of tables and chairs to provide more room for the crews to work.

"It was pretty intense," Patton said. "It was very instinctual after the training I'd received from the self-aide buddy care and CPR classes I've taken. For me it was doing what we are all supposed to do, which is just the right thing. There was no hesitation."

Patton received an award Aug. 5 from Surprise Mayor Sharon Wolcott, Surprise Vice Mayor Skip Hall and the Surprise Fire Department for his quick actions, administration of life-saving CPR, and contribution to making the City of Surprise a heart-safe city. The fire chief commented on the incident and that without the quick thinking and action of both men, the man would not have survived his heart attack.

"It's great when you get to meet someone, and you know you impacted their life in such a positive way," Patton said. It's really something."

The man later identified as Robert Clark, attended the award presentation at City Hall. He and his wife were able to express their gratitude to both Patton and Erwin for saving Clark's life.

"I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart," Clark said. "I really do not remember much, but I appreciate what he did. My wife said that people just stepped in instantaneously and started helping out, and I just thank God he was there."