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Commander, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic

U.S. Navy Officers Save A Life

by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mario Coto
16 July 2023

Ensign Matthew Hedish and Ensign Michael Johnson, both assigned to Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station (NCTS) Naples and currently embarked aboard USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), assisted with life-saving efforts of a man in distress while visiting the Pablo Picasso Museum in Malaga, Spain, July 6.

“We came to the end of the museum, and stopped off at the café for just a quick coffee,” said Hedish. “We noticed a man come in, an older gentleman, and he clearly had some kind of medical situation going on.”

Hedish and Johnson initially monitored from a distance, thinking at first that the man was trying to recover from the heat. As time went on, the man’s head began to bob and shake, which told both Sailors that this was more than just heat stress. Hedish approached the man with a translation app, explaining his background as an EMT and requested consent to assist and monitor for vitals.

“After a few minutes of noticing him, I noticed he had some form of neurological condition since he was shaking a little bit,” said Hedish. “The thing that really concerned me from my experience previously as an EMT was when people start nodding off with jitters and not being able to maintain any form of communication. That’s when I realized there was probably something a little bit more involved happening.’”

Security was alerted of a possible need for medical attention in the café. The man initially refused a need for an ambulance, communicating that he had taken his medication and it just needed a few minutes to take effect.

The man’s conditions were deteriorating at this point, though, so Johnson and Hedish carried the man to lie down on a couch. The man accepted a request to consent for emergency service.

“We just continued to monitor him,” said Hedish. “We were making sure that his heart was strong and making sure that he could breathe. We just stood by his side until higher level medical care could show up.”

While Hedish continued to monitor the man, at times providing basic CPR and First-Aid, Johnson made sure the café was cleared and closed off to allow first responder easy access to the ailing man.

“In the end, everything worked out fine,” said Johnson. “The on duty EMTs showed up with all their gear, and had brought everything we had requested ahead of time. They handled it from there.”

Once the EMTs stabilized the man, Hedish conducted a full turnover with local authorities and passed all relevant information. Museum and café staff thanked Hedish and Johnson before the officers left.

“There were handshakes all around, thanking us for staying, watching and monitoring the guy,” Johnson said. Hedish believes he was just doing what his training taught him to do.

“He was just someone that was having a problem,” he said. “I stepped in and made sure it was being handled correctly.”

USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) is the U.S. Sixth Fleet flagship, homeported in Gaeta, and operates with a combined crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners.

For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with our Allies and Partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.

Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of
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