By Chief Hospital Corpsman Petty Officer Castor J. Gutierrez, SWMI Public Affairs,
Greg Mitchell, USNH Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan – U.S. Naval Hospital (USNH) Yokosuka Commanding Officer Capt. Rosemary C. Malone had the honor of presenting the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (NA) to Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Joshua Blanchard, for going above and beyond his duties to save the life of a drowning mother while serving a recent Temporary Assigned Duty (TAD) at Surface Warfare Medical Institute (SWMI) in San Diego, Calif.
“It’s pretty surreal,” said Blanchard. “I wasn’t expecting any recognition. I wasn’t aware that this was going to happen but it is definitely an honor to receive this award.”
Blanchard, a native of Wilmington, N.C., responded to a call for help from two school-age children who initially approached the receptionist desk, Aug. 16, 2016, .
“I was sitting in the lobby waiting for classmates to go out on liberty at about 1930,” said Blanchard. “Due to the time of day, I couldn’t see what was going on outside so I went over to the door. There was yelling and screaming and that’s when I saw people standing around what was a salt-water pool. I ran out to the pool and after focusing for a few seconds, I could see that there was a person lying at the bottom.”
The person at the bottom of the 8-foot pool was an unconscious mother of two children who were present.
With little concern for his own well-being, Blanchard jumped into the deep end of the pool and brought her to surface, with the assistance of a couple of bystanders. Taking charge of the scene, he instructed all bystanders surrounding the drowning victim to provide sufficient space to begin medical attention. He quickly assessed the woman’s carotid artery, whereas he was unable to feel a pulse.
Emergency response was initiated by a bystander as Blanchard immediately began administering Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) to the victim. After approximately 20 minutes of CPR, vomitus began to gush from the woman’s mouth. After reassessing, Blanchard was able to feel a weak carotid pulse before the arrival of paramedics and police officers.
Once the paramedics took control of the situation, Blanchard provided a voluntary statement to the police, then immediately consoled the victim’s 6-year old daughter and 10-year old son.
Three days after the incident, Blanchard approached the hotel’s manager about the victim in question. The manager informed him that the woman had survived, was in treatment at a local hospital and that family members were able to come to San Diego to care for her two children while she was recovering.
Blanchard attributes his response ability to paying attention to detail in Basic Life Support (BLS) class, which is held annually for all medical professionals.
“I think we all prepare for it and never really expect for something like this to happen,” said Blanchard.
“Honestly there wasn’t much thought behind me going in to help. As a Corpsman, you have that automatic since of pride and professionalism and the knowledge that at any given moment, you have the skillset to possibly be a difference maker in someone’s life. To see that women’s children afterwards and then to hear later on that their mother had survived, it made me again realize how much of an impact that we as Corpsman have on someone’s life. It is numbing to me. I accepted my award on behalf of every Corpsman in the command and in the U.S. Navy. I am nowhere near the only one who would do this. It’s a great community that I am extremely proud to be a part of.”