VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. --
A Guardian was awarded a Joint Service Achievement Medal May 4, 2022, during a ceremony at Peterson Space Force Base, Colo., for his quick thinking and efforts to provide emergency medical assistance to a fellow crewmember.
U.S. Space Force Sgt. Christian McConnell, a Missile Warning Center crew technician for the Combined Force Space Component Command, administered life-saving aid and called for emergency services for a coworker who suffered from cardiac arrest on Oct. 19, 2021.
“Sergeant McConnell is a true hero and we are extremely fortunate to have people like him on our team who are quick on their feet and will do everything they can to help others in need,” said Maj. Gen. DeAnna Burt, Combined Force Space Component Command commander. “This isn’t something that most people think about happening to them, but this incident clearly reminds us that it does and we must be ready to act.”
According to McConnell, on the day of the emergency he met up with his crew commander, Maj. Bradley Tempia, as usual for their shift at the Cheyenne Mountain Complex. However, while walking into the facility Tempia suddenly fell ill and lost consciousness, falling to the floor. McConnell sprang into action, checking for response and determining it best to prop Tempia onto his side. He also directed another coworker to call 9-1-1, sought additional help from the medical clinic inside the facility, and ensured someone was with Tempia until the medical professionals arrived.
“The whole experience felt very surreal to me after the fact,” said McConnell. “For the remainder of my shift I was thinking to myself, ‘Was there anything else that I could have done better?’ and, ‘Did I do anything wrong?’”
Despite this being one of what he describes as the most anxiety-inducing events of his life, the biggest relief for McConnell was that his leadership continued to give him status updates on Tempia, who appeared to be recovering well after a sudden cardiac arrest.
“Sergeant McConnell’s and the medic’s calm demeanor during my event only helped to keep me calm as I was coming in and out of consciousness,” said Tempia of that unforgettable day. “I’m extremely thankful and proud of Christian’s quick reaction; not only as his former crew commander but as a recipient of his efforts.”
Although not a trained medical technician, McConnell had some familiarity with medical response procedures after having taken the U.S. Air Force’s Self Aid Buddy Care course, as well as growing up in a household where one of his family members, his mother, was a professional nurse.
In addition, McConnell credits his military training with helping him react so quickly and decisively.
“Being in the military, I have been trained to remain calm during stressful situation that require timely and decisive actions,” he said. “I have been placed in situations where I have the responsibility to react in seconds to abnormal circumstances that could result in high interest mission degradations. I believe it is this training and my responsibilities as a space operator that gave me the ability to maintain a clear mind, allowing me to rapidly react to the medical emergency.”
Looking back on the events of that day, McConnell says he feels relieved that everything worked out, his crew commander recovered, and he did all he could using his training and knowledge of emergency services available to him.
“I am thankful that I was with my crew commander when this happened and he wasn’t alone,” added McConnell. “Honestly though, I feel like I simply acted like anyone else would have if they had been put in the same situation.”