WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio — When retired Air Force Lt. Gen. John Hudson woke on the warm overcast morning of the Air Force Marathon, Sept. 15, he knew the weather would be a challenge. But he was fit, trained and ready to take on the 10 kilometer race, just as he had for the past 10 years.
As ready as he was physically, what Hudson didn’t know was that his life-saving CPR and first aid training would be even more important on the course that day.
“I never thought that morning I would have a chance to help someone live,” said Hudson.
As Hudson approached the 2-mile marathon course flag near the Air Force Institute of Technology, he noticed a man about 40 feet ahead of him take a few wobbly steps, stumble and collapse face first into the asphalt.
“I was running the 10K and had just started to walk, as I felt nauseous and dizzy,” said the man, who wishes to remain anonymous. “I thought maybe I was thirsty and grabbed some water from the water station. Then, I passed out.”
Hudson immediately sprinted up the hill toward the fallen man, calling out to a nearby security forces defender to call for medical assistance.
Upon reaching the injured, Hudson turned the man over as three women arrived at his side, stating that they were nurses. Hudson and the team immediately began the CPR process. Hudson counted as the nurses began applying compressions and rescue breathing in an attempt to bring the man back to consciousness.
“It was a very stressful situation,” said Hudson. “We did two or three cycles of CPR, counting and compressing and breathing, doing our best to keep him alive.”
Just a few moments later, first responders arrived on the scene with a portable Automated External Defibrillator and quickly took over, applying electrodes and administering shock treatment to the man’s heart. They then prepped him for transport by ambulance to a nearby medical facility.
“At this point, we all stepped away from the scene to let the professionals do their job. I went the whole rest of the race not knowing if he survived,” said Hudson.
At the finish line, Hudson learned that the man was transported to nearby Soin Medical Center in Beavercreek, Ohio, for follow-up treatment. He also learned that the man had survived, though his full condition was still unknown.
“As I kept walking, I was thinking, praying that he survived,” said Hudson. “I’ve kept my CPR and first aid training current and knew we did the right things, but I still didn’t know the outcome.”
Hudson learned later that day that the runner’s condition was stable following a medical procedure on his heart.
“It’s a miracle with a capital ‘M’ that the situation occurred when there were people around who were trained and willing to help out,” said Hudson. “That’s not always the case. I myself played a small part. The real miracle workers were the nurses and medics who were in the right place at the right time.”
Hudson also emphasized just how important and valuable his training was in helping him to know what to do in the situation.
“All of the times you take CPR and first aid training, you never know when and if you will ever need to use it. You never know when you might be asked to help out, so you need to be ready, always ready,” said Hudson.
The injured runner is recovering well and plans to walk next year’s 10 kilometer race with the nurses who helped save him.
“I’m still trying to piece everything together from that day, but I am so thankful to everyone who stopped and helped save my life — the general, the two reservist nurses from Cleveland, the active-duty nurse at Wright-Patt, the Beavercreek medical squad and everyone else. They don’t often get to see how the patient turns out, and I want them to know I am grateful,” he said.
Hudson, who recently learned the runner attends the same church, looks forward to seeing him in person as well.
“It’s a special feeling to know you helped somebody to live,” said Hudson. “What an awesome outcome to a serious situation.”