VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. — On the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 16, two Guardians from the 65th Cyberspace Squadron performed life-saving treatment on a military member during a physical training test at Vandenberg Space Force Base.
U.S. Space Force Spec. 4 Derek Avenetti, from Rockwall, Texas, and Spec. 3 Jesse Hayden, from Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, both 65 CYS cyber operators, were leading their first PT test as Physical Training Leaders when they realized their help was needed.
“It was only about a week prior to this incident that we had both become fully certified as PTLs by completing the required first aid and CPR training,” said Avenetti.
Prior to this PT test that they conducted together, both members had overseen one test each, and only in a ‘shadowing-a-mentor’ capacity. It was also only by chance they were at the scene since the member they aided was part of a different unit.
“Typically, we administer our PT tests on Fridays,” Hayden said. “But we had a member that was out-processing and needed to get it done earlier in the week since it was the last available day they had before going overseas. We concluded the first portion of their test and had walked out to the track to get ready for the run portion, and that’s when we heard other PTLs calling help for their member.”
Avenetti and Hayden had their member on the line ready to start their run when they heard the other PTLs from across the track calling for the AED, or Automated External Defibrillator - a first aid machine to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. Luckily, they were prepared and had one on them as all PTLs should have during tests.
When Avenetti and Hayden looked over and saw a body on the ground in the distance, they knew the situation was dire.
“We sprinted across the field and the member was not breathing by the time they were calling us out,” said Avenetti. “As soon as we got the AED on and got the heart rate, she started to breathe again but very rapidly and couldn’t talk and was unresponsive to verbal commands.”
This critical status continued for a few minutes until the member began to get more responsive and by the time medics got there, the member was able to ‘nod their head’ and acknowledge verbal questions.
Ultimately, the member returned to a stable condition and was provided the care they needed.
Hayden and Avenetti attribute the familiarity they had on how to properly use the AED to the recent training that had just been given.
“I was in the Boy Scouts for 10 years and it was always drilled in me ‘Hey, one day something is going to happen, and you have to be ready,’” said Avenetti. “So, I was always comfortable with first aid, but the PTL training fundamentally gave me a lot more confidence with an AED. A majority of my knowledge on how to use it directly came from the PTL training.”
According to the two members, another key factor to their quick decision making and confident use of equipment was the fact that they had each other there.
“Avenetti and I went through PTL training together, we lead PT workouts together and we have always been on the same team within the office working together,” said Hayden. “It was helpful to have someone else with the similar mentality and amount of training to go through this situation with. It created a familiarity feeling that we were going to handle this together.”
Reflecting on the experience, the two members offered advice to anyone who may find themselves in a situation that requires a call to action.
“Have the confidence to step out of your comfort zone when the situation calls for you to do so,” said Hayden.
“Always be prepared,” said Aventti. “You never know if you'll find yourself in a situation like this and if it
happens to you it'll reinforce the importance of always having the right equipment and the proper training.”
Although Hayden was unable to attend, both members were recognized for their heroic efforts at a Combined Force Space Component Command (CFSCC) All Call where they were coined by Maj. Gen. Douglas A. Schiess, CFSCC commander.