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Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point

Cherry Point, North Carolina
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MCCS employees awarded for saving heart attack victim’s life

By Lance Cpl. Andrew King | Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point | February 4, 2019

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Two recreation attendants working for Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) Cherry Point, received the Civil Service Achievement Award during a ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, Jan. 31, 2019.

Dorothy Barbour and Vanessa Batungbakal were presented the award by MCCS Cherry Point director, Michael Largent, on behalf of the air station commanding officer, Col. Todd Ferry, for their actions on Nov. 26, 2018. Barbour and Batungbakal saved Larry Smith’s life after he suffered a heart attack at the Devil Dog Gym on the air station.

“It doesn’t hit you until after the fact,” said Barbour. “You don’t think, you just react.”

Smith, 83, who is a regular patron of the Devil Dog Gym, was getting off one of the treadmills when he collapsed on the ground, suffering a heart attack. Before emergency services arrived Barbour and Batungbakal performed CPR and administered an electrical shock through an automated external defibrillator (AED) to restart Smith’s heart to a steady rhythm.

Smith was transported to the CarolinaEast Medical Center in New Bern, N.C., where he underwent surgery to remove two blockages in his heart and did not regain consciousness for two days following his heart attack.

“After my wife told me what happened it was hard to believe,” said Smith. “I was overwhelmed. I felt so good before it happened.”

Barbour and Batungbakal both said the biggest thing for people who find themselves in similar situations is to remain calm, don’t panic and just follow your training.

When asked what it meant to her to be able to save Smith’s life, Batungbakal said, “It made me feel like I had the ability to act without freaking out too much and do what was needed to be done.”

“I wouldn’t be 84 if it wasn’t for them saving me,” Smith said.

The full citation for their award is;

For professional achievement in the performance of her duties while assisting as a recreation attendant, Devil Dog Gym, Semper Fit, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, on November 26, 2018. At approximately 0800 on this day, Ms. Barbour and Ms. Batungbakal performed lifesaving techniques in an exemplary and highly professional manner. Displaying exceptional calmness under pressure and performing CPR, first aid and AED on a collapsed patron after assessing his vitals. Noteworthy were their efforts in remaining calm, ensuring 911 was immediately notified and administering a shock after no pulse was detected. The patron’s heartbeat returned to a steady rhythm prior to emergency services arriving and transporting the patron to Carolina East Medical Center in New Bern. The efforts helped ensure this patron survived and he was able to have surgery successfully removing two blockages in his heart. Ms. Barbour’s and Ms. Batungbakal’s initiative, perseverance, and ability to implement their training in a real life incident while on duty reflected credit upon them and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Services.


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