Sharp eyed Airman saves Fla. swimmer

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Christopher Reel
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
It could happen to almost anyone.

Imagine sitting at the beach enjoying the sounds of the waves with the company of family or friends, when cries of distress come rippling across the waves.

"I noticed a guy floating out to sea caught in a rip current, while his family members yelled for help from the beach," said Technical Sgt. Timothy Martin, 325th Training Support Squadron quality assessment evaluator. "I saw he was struggling to stay afloat so I ran over to another family that had a circle ring that I knew would keep me and him up, and I asked to take it to help the man and took off.

"At this point, he was about 50 yards out right after the sandbar drop off was," Sergeant Martin continued. "As I was getting closer to him, I noticed he was really struggling and starting to go under. When I got to him, I grabbed his hand and wrapped it around the tube. He was very fatigued, and he almost immediately shut down."

During the pull back to shore the man was unresponsive.

"I tried to talk to him, but he was extremely fatigued," Sergeant Martin said. "I noticed he had a heart rate and was breathing, but his breathing was shallow with a strong smell of alcohol. The water was still well above my head, and I knew I had to get to where I could stand up so I could check him out better."

As they approached the shore, the gentleman's family ran into help him the rest of the way out of the water and laid him down on the beach. They began tapping on his chest and shaking him trying to get a response, but still nothing.

"We then rolled him to his side to see if he could cough up some water," Sergeant Martin said. "He almost immediately started spitting up water and becoming responsive once we did that."

Shortly upon the man's regaining of consciousness, emergency management technicians arrived on the scene. The man refused to go to the hospital for further medical evaluation.

"After later receiving the police report, I called the family and was told that he was well and doing fine," Sergeant Martin said.

Sergeant Martin is also the squadron's unit safety representative. He used to be a life guard prior to the military and was also a life guard while he was stationed at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea.

"It's important for people to know their own capabilities while they are in or around the water; always ensure someone knows the area you are swimming at if you are swimming alone, and if possible always have a Wingman with you in case you need help; don't mix drinking and swimming," said Sergeant Martin.

Surf conditions can change very quickly at local beaches, the sergeant explained. If caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the beach shore until out of the current and then attempt to swim in. It's also important to pay attention to flag conditions.

Due to Sergeant Martin's selfless actions, he was submitted for an Airman's medal.

"I wasn't looking for an award, I was just glad I was in a position to help the gentleman and that it was a good outcome," Sergeant Martin said.