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VAFB Officer saves civilian contractor’s life

Vandenberg Air Force Base First Lieutenant Robert Youssef was in the right place, at the right time and with the right training when it mattered most after a civilian contractor collapsed on base.

It was during a dry-run for an interceptor missile launch last month when long-time civilian contractor Don Smith had a sudden, medical emergency.

“We heard a moan and then he fell”, says fellow civilian contractor Richard Wilson.

Wilson and Lt. Youssef were among those closest to Don Smith when he collapsed.

“At that point I realized there is some situation, its a life or death situation and I have to act, he had no pulse”, Lt. Youssef says about the situation and how he relied on his Air Force CPR training, “I started doing compressions, kept doing compressions probably for two or three minutes.”

Youssef applied non-stop chest compressions until emergency services personnel arrived on scene and took over.

“I believe that those compressions saved Mr. Smith’s life”, Richard Wilson says.

Lt. Youssef says he reacted like any other CPR-trained airman or Air Force officer would when confronted with a similar situation.

“I was reaching for six years back, step by step, what do I have to do”, Youssef says about his life-saving efforts, “the Air Force training to do CPR helped me save Mr. Smith’s life but also all the training I went through in the Air Force helped me to stay calm and take control of the situation.”

Local Red Cross offices and most local fire departments typically offer free CPR classes at various times of the year.

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