June 29, 2009

Virginia Guard Soldiers use combat medical knowledge to provide aide to civilian in Richmond

By Capt. Chris Joyner
91st Troop Command Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Two Virginia National Guard Soldiers were recognized in Virginia Beach June 15 for using their combat life saving skills to save a Virginia girl suffering a medical emergency at a restaurant in Richmond June 11. The Soldiers diagnosed and treated a young girl for symptoms of heat stroke and stabilized her until Emergency Medical Technicians arrived on the scene.

  Virginia Guard Soldiers receive bronze stars

Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, the Adjutant General of Virginia, expresses his appreciation to Staff Sgt. Larry D. Pleasants of Virginia Beach and Spc. Ronald G Leftwich Jr. of Midlothian June 15 after presenting the two Soldiers with the Virginia Bronze Star. Newman recognized the two Soldiers for their action to provide first aid assistance to a girl presenting heat injuries symptoms at a restaurant in Midlothian June 11. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs) 


Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, the Adjutant General of Virginia, presented Virginia Bronze Stars to Spc. Ronald G Leftwich Jr. of Midlothian and Staff Sgt. Larry D. Pleasants, of Virginia Beach June 15 during a Virginia Guard training exercise. The two Soldiers were dining at the Golden Coral near Midlothian when they witnessed a female fall and begin labored breathing. According to Pleasants, large number of people immediately came to the female’s aid but had little idea what to do. Pleasants approached the female and asked if he could help and was immediately told yes by the girl’s mother.

“The first thing we did was assess her condition,” said Pleasants.“Leftwich helped me with crowd control getting people away so we could work quickly”. Pleasants immediately noticed the female’s skin was clammy and her heart rate was low, he explained in a report to his military superiors.  “I checked her capillary refill and noticed that her skin was not responding with rapid color return after squeezing her hand.  This gave me the first indication that the girl was suffering from some type of heat injury,” said Pleasants.

 

Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, the Adjutant General of Virginia, presents the Virginia Bronze Star to Spc. Ronald G Leftwich Jr. of Midlothian June 15. Newman recognized Leftwich and Staff Sgt. Larry D. Pleasants of Virginia Beach for their action to provide first aid assistance to a girl presenting heat injuries symptoms at a restaurant in Midlothian June 11. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Pleasants and Leftwich are both Combat Lifesavers in the Army National Guard and have received advanced life saving training designed for combat scenarios.  “Heat injuries are common in the Army, and we could see signs in the injured girl similar to that of other situations we’ve seen in the Army,” said Leftwich. Pleasants observed the girl’s breathing and heart rate and was able to determine the girl was suffering from heat stroke, a life threatening condition if untreated.

“We recognized the most important thing was to reduce her body core temperature and get fluids in her to combat dehydration,” said Pleasants. Ice bags were quickly placed under the armpits of the girl to get the ice closest to her body’s core. Once medical personnel arrived, they rapidly continued with advanced care starting an IV to provide badly needed fluids to the injured girl, and the injured was taken to an area hospital.  The name of the girl is not available.

Leftwich and Pleasants both served in Iraq, and Pleasants has deployed twice to Iraq.  “[in Iraq] we had plenty of experience with heat injuries so we knew exactly what to do,” added Pleasants.

Leftwich is assigned to the Headquarters Detachment, 91st Troop Comand and Pleasants is assigned to the Rear Detachment Headquarters Company, 276th Engineer Battalion.

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