Written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ali Flockerzi.
A hero doesn’t always wear a cape and save the day. Some heroes simply dedicate their lives to their jobs and answer the call to put another’s safety and well being before their own. They make a conscious choice to think of others first and when tested, bravely and selflessly arise to the occasion. These actions are what make a hero.
David Reynolds, a seaman apprentice, had been working at Coast Guard Station Montauk, in Montauk, N.Y., less than four months the first time he was called to assist a life. It was a sunny, warm morning when he heard a shrill alarm sound. Reynolds and his fellow Coastguardsman, Seaman Jordan Siegrist, were doing a routine cleaning aboard one of the station’s vessels.
“We heard this SAR alarm go off, so we both ran to see what was going on,” Reynolds recalled. “[We were] told there was a report of a man having a heart attack.”
The noise from the search and rescue alarm prompted a quick response; Reynolds and his shipmates jumped into action and got underway on one of the station’s 25-foot response boat-small vessels.
Swiftly arriving on scene within three minutes, the boat crew approached a recreational vessel. The words NEXT MOVE were painted boldly on the body of the boat. Reynolds and Petty Officer 1st Class Juan Flores, a boatswains mate, climbed aboard the vessel, which was occupied by two mariners. A 60-year-old man was lying unconscious on the deck; he was the one they had come to save.
Flores began steering the boat toward Station Montauk’s pier, while Reynolds assessed the situation. The man was not breathing and he had no pulse. Immediately, Reynolds prepped an automated external defibrillator, meant to stimulate the heart to beat again. Being mere minutes from the station, Reynolds administered only one shock with the AED before he and some Coast Guard crewmembers lifted the man from the vessel and onto the dock.
“I was a bit nervous since this was the first time doing something like that,” said Reynolds. “I just got right in the action and did what I was trained to do.”
His heart was racing with adrenaline but his mind was clear regarding the task at hand. Reynolds began performing CPR. Thirty chest compressions, two breaths, and one shock with the AED. Chest compressions. Breaths. Shock. Over and over again. He knew he had to keep going until the emergency medical service arrived. Siegrist jumped in and assisted with the compressions while Reynolds continued the rescue breaths. Minutes ticked by and the pair didn’t stop. Thirty compressions, two breaths, one shock.
They continued for 15 minutes until a local EMS team pulled up to the station and took over. After all that work, Reynolds wanted to rest easy knowing he had done all that he could in the situation. But all he could think about was if the man was going to be okay.
As per routine, Reynolds was also transported to the hospital to make sure he hadn’t been exposed to anything dangerous while performing CPR. It was at the medical center that he learned the mariner had not survived the incident.
“I felt disappointed like there must have been something else I could have done,” said Reynolds. “I did my best to assist this person and save his life. I was doing what I was supposed to be doing and I did it to the best of my ability.”
Every day, Coast Guard men and women put their lives on the line to help those in need. Like this instance, some situations have unfortunate outcomes, but Reynolds’ efforts and dedication to his job proved critical to the task at hand. By maintaining readiness at all times and preparing himself for these types of situations, he is the epitome of the Coast Guard’s motto Semper Paratus and ready to heed the calls of mariners in distress.