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CONR-1 AF (AFNORTH) senior master sergeant saves life with CPR

Capt. Zachary Darnell and Senior Master Sgt. Ricardo Betancourt, Air, Space and Information Operations Directorate, discuss air-defense operations. (Photo by Mary McHale)

Capt. Zachary Darnell and Senior Master Sgt. Ricardo Betancourt, Air, Space and Information Operations Directorate, discuss air-defense operations. (Photo by Mary McHale)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Next time the Continental U.S NORAD Region-1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern) holds a CPR recertification course, one sure attendee is someone who recently found out its value first-hand.

Senior Master Sgt. Ricardo Betancourt, of the Air, Space and Information Operations Directorate, was unloading construction materials at his house in late February. Suddenly, a construction superintendent ran over and asked him if he knew of any medical personnel in the area. One of the superintendent’s crew was lying unresponsive on the ground. Betancourt rushed over and as soon as he arrived, he saw another worker attempting CPR but saw he was not trained in the proper technique. Betancourt immediately took over.
He said he initially received CPR training as a requirement to be a physical training leader when he was assigned to the 601st Air Operations Center here and kept his certification current annually.

Adding to the intensity of the crisis response was that since the housing development was still under construction, the responding paramedics were delayed with no GPS coordinates to reference. Betancourt said he was getting winded and his arms were wearing as they waited for the ambulance, so he instructed another of the construction crew, on the ratio of chest compressions to rescue breaths.

Also, he told the person speaking with the paramedics to ensure the paramedics had an AED on hand. Once the ambulance arrived, he remembered from training the individual being treated with the device could not have any metal on him so he helped remove his belt and steel-toed boots. Once the medics stabilized the patient and rushed him to the hospital, Betancourt shared his phone number with the superintendent so he could get updates.

“I learned a lot in training about how to communicate with others in this kind of event, directing what needs to be done” he said. “I stayed in contact with the superintendent but the first few calls were distressing – the young man was on life support with no liver, kidney or brain function.”
Betancourt, a man of deep spiritual faith, said that while he was praying throughout the ordeal, this news left him sleepless, so he paced and prayed throughout the night.
“From the start, I put my faith and trust in God,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s not your timeline. But this kid was so young.”

Then, the third day after the incident, Betancourt was in standing in a bank when he got another call.
“I’m standing in the middle of the bank when I received a call that he was awake and asking questions,” he said. “I shouted hallelujah right there. The other people must have thought I was crazy.”

Betancourt went to see the young man in the hospital the fourth day.

“I walked in, and he said, ‘Do I know you?” And I replied ‘no but I know you.”

He said the young man’s mother embraced him with a tearful, grateful hug.

“The paramedics told her had he not received that initial treatment, she wouldn’t have a son,” Betancourt said.

He also said the whole experience skyrocketed his trust in God’s power.

“My faith is on a whole new level, especially my belief in miracles, because that man was dead and now he is alive,” he said.