Tuesday, August 23, 2005

USS Memphis Sailor Saves A Life On Mount Fuji

Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Kyle Johnson, a native of Lavergne, Tenn., and a crewman on the Groton-based submarine USS Memphis, saved a shipmate's life following a hiking accident on Mount Fuji on July 24.
Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Kyle Johnson of the Groton-based USS Memphis
The former lifeguard was hiking on Mount Fuji when his “liberty buddy” fell approximately 15 feet down a cliff. Johnson provided immediate first aid. “My first thought was he had a spinal injury and needed to be stabilized,” said Johnson. “His pulse was fading, and he was not breathing.” He started cardiopulmonary resuscitation, while a hiker who was passing by called for a rescue crew. As the unnamed petty officer began having convulsions, Johnson kept his head and neck stabilized and performed more CPR. After a second convulsion, the victim had no pulse. Johnson kept his composure and continued his lifesaving work. Then it began to rain, and Johnson said he worried about hypothermia. “I put all the clothes we had on him to keep him warm,” said Johnson. “I even took off almost all my clothes, including my socks and shoes to cover his whole body. I had to keep him warm, so I laid on top of him to keep his body temperature up.” Hours went by and still there was no rescue. Coming up the trail were a Japanese family who spotted the two men, and offered their hot packs, some clothes and blankets. Johnson quickly put the hot packs on the victim's chest. The family again called for a search-and-rescue team. The team told them the rescue efforts were halted because it was foggy, and they could not find the victim. “When I heard that, I told them we needed the rescue to be reinstated,” Johnson said. But the dispatcher said it could take hours or days due to the fog. Johnson asked the woman to call the Navy base, which in turn directed them to Camp Fuji. “When I called Camp Fuji, I talked to a duty corpsman and told him of the conditions,” said Johnson. “He sent some Marines and a few corpsman.” While the party waited to be rescued, the corpsman called every 10 minutes. The fog soon cleared and the rescue team located the accident victim, put him on a stretcher, loaded him on the rescue truck and headed off to the medical station.
USS Memphis SSN-691
“This sailor would not have made it if it were not for the efforts of Johnson,” said USS Memphis' chief of the boat, Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Al Atkinson. “Incidents like this are why we hold CPR and other life-saving training on the boat.” Johnson said he was not worried about being a hero but was worried about saving a life. He also said the thing he disliked most about going on liberty showed him why it was important. “When I first learned of the buddy system, I thought it was a drag, but then after this experience I think it is very important,” said Johnson. Atkinson also credited the buddy system for preventing this incident from becoming a tragedy. It requires two or more sailors to go on liberty in a foreign port together. “Since leaving for deployment, we have adopted the standard Navy buddy system guidelines,” said Atkinson. “As you can see, the system works.”
USS Memphis SSN-691

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