NEWS | Oct. 28, 2019

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Airman Saves a Life

By Airman 1st Class Emily Farnsworth Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Public Affairs

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The Air Force prides itself in being always ready and providing countless hours of training each year to ensure its Airmen are prepared to act at a moments notice, both on and off duty.

For one Airman assigned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, this training enabled him to save a life.

On Oct. 5, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Richmond Smiley, a 3rd Maintenance Squadron crash recovery craftsman, attended a music festival in Washington with his wife.

While at the event, Smiley’s wife saw a man in distress and alerted Smiley to the situation.

When he realized the victim needed medical assistance, he fell back on his training and made a split-second decision.

“I knew I was in the position to make a difference,” Smiley said. “The training we receive in the Air Force helped make this decision very easy, almost like an instinctive reaction.”

Smiley jumped over a fence to get to the victim and moved him to a safer location to provide medical assistance.

The victim then went into cardiac arrest.

“I knew what to do in this situation thanks to the training given to me in my CPR classes,” Smiley said.

Smiley performed CPR for approximately 10 minutes until emergency medical services personnel arrived to take over. The victim was transported to a local hospital for further treatment.

Smiley, originally from Houston, Texas, enlisted in the Air Force as a crash response craftsman in 2009.

Smiley’s leadership said they were proud of their Airman and his actions.

“It’s humbling to hear about one of our great Airman applying the skillsets the Air Force teaches us,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Charles Dettlinger, 3rd Maintenance Squadron superintendent. “We are all very proud of Staff Sgt. Smiley and his ability and willingness to help save a life. Rich embodies what it means to be an Airman and we are glad he was there to help.”

Before his transition to Edwards Air Force Base, California, Smiley is being awarded the Air Force Achievement Medal for his distinctive accomplishments.

Smiley said he was glad he was able to help the man.

“I admit I was caught off guard, it was the last thing I expected to be doing that night,” Smiley said. “I was just glad to be able to help out where I could.”