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Off-duty USAF IDMT to the rescue

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jessi Monte
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- An independent duty medical technician assigned to the 44th Fighter Squadron, recently employed her life-saving knowledge to aide a Japanese man on a train after he passed out due to what may have been a case of hypoglycemia at the Yukohashi train station in Fukuoka, Japan, March 28, 2022.

Staff Sgt. Linda Moreno was on a temporary duty assignment to Tsuiki Air Base for aviation relocation training, a bilateral training event between the 44th FS and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. The incident occurred as she was returning from a leisure outing during her off-duty hours.

“I was on my way back from a shopping trip,” Moreno said. “I heard a thump behind me, but didn’t think much of it. The train stopped, I got up to get off and saw a man lying on the floor.”

She said she approached the scene and saw that the man was unconscious and foaming from the mouth, at which time she turned him on his side to clear his airway. One of the train station employees approached them and helped her move the man out of the foot traffic. The employee then remained to assist her.

As the fallen man started to regain consciousness, the train station employee acted as a middle man to ask him questions about what had happened.

“I used the google translate app to communicate with him, thank God I had that app on my phone!”

Moreno used her medical training to assess the situation, asking him for a SAMPLE history. S – signs and symptoms, A – allergies, M – medications, P – pertinent information, such as existing medical conditions, L – the last time food was eaten and E – events leading up to the incident. This was something she originally learned during her time as an emergency medical technician before joining the Air Force, and still practices today.

Through that assessment she was able to find out that he was diabetic. He also hadn’t eaten anything since early that morning and it was nearly dinner time. She suspected that he was suffering from hypoglycemia and instructed the train station employee to get an orange juice from a nearby vending machine.

“We gave him a drink and he started getting better. He wasn't sweating so much, but still looked tired.”

Moreno planned to stay with the man, until his family came to get him. She wanted to recommend that they take him to a hospital, just in case. However, it was shortly thereafter that the man vomited, and she decided it would be best to call an ambulance.

During the fall the man had hit his head, and vomiting could have been a sign of a concussion, so she told the train station employee to call for help. While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, she typed up an incident report and translated it with her phone so the ambulance team would know what happened.

She recalled that even after the man was safely in the care of local medical personnel, she started thinking in hindsight.

“What could I have done better, you know? After he threw up I remembered that I had some wet napkins I could have used to clean his face. When I looked at my purse, I had a big plastic bag that I could have given him.”

Moreno said when an unexpected emergency occurs, she just reacts. She has had a multitude of medical training and she sees patient’s everyday so she is used to going through the necessary questioning and assessment. Her experience helps her to do what needs to be done in the present situation without hesitation.

“Sometimes in the moment you may not remember everything but the important thing is to react and do something,” Moreno reflected. “If I wasn’t there and no one reacted, then his family could have been planning a funeral for him. You can’t just look the other way because it could mean life or death for someone.”