NORTHERN LUZON, Philippines --
U.S. Marines with 3d Marine Littoral Regiment, 3d Marine Division, were sitting down for lunch with Salvador, a locally contracted driver, when suddenly he collapsed and remained unconscious.
The day was like any other. For the past week, Salvador and his coworkers would drive the Marines to and from bases in the Northern Luzon region.
“Salvador was a very pleasant and open individual with a good sense of humor. He spoke English and was happy to answer any questions or curiosities we had about the Philippines,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Garza.
At first, it appeared that Salvador was attempting to sit down at the table. However, the Marines noticed he was struggling to breathe, his teeth were clenched, and he remained in a stationary position between standing and sitting. Suddenly, his elbow dropped onto the table.
“Are you ok?” Staff Sgt. Kyle Bougeno asked. No response. Salvador remained frozen in place and began to foam at the mouth and shake.
“His teeth were clenched shut, his eyes were open and looked like they were protruding slightly,” said Garza.
The Marines immediately moved to lower Salvador to the ground and placed him in the recovery position while they attempted to clear his airway and apply sternum rubs to help him regain consciousness. The gentleman was unresponsive. Other Marines contacted emergency medical services and cleared the area to provide privacy and a path for EMS.
At this point, a Filipino woman with medical experience came to assist. She began chest compressions while Garza provided mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
After a few rounds of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the man began to breathe on his own. While waiting for EMS to arrive on scene, the Marines continued to monitor Salvador and placed him on his side in a recovery position.
While all the lifesaving steps were occurring, one of Salvador’s coworkers found an inhaler in his personal belongings and handed it to Cpl. Luis Nufiopintio. Nufiopinto puffed the inhaler into his mouth. Salvador appeared to feel some relief and continued to breathe on his own. The Marines continued to monitor his condition and cool him down with hats provided by local bystanders. Once EMS arrived on scene, the Marines helped transfer the man onto a spinal backboard and carried him to the back of a truck.
“I believe the Marines present reacted to the medical emergency quickly and effectively,” said Garza. “Were it not for the actions of the Marines – from performing CPR and calling for medical services to clearing the area and carrying the patient – I believe Salvador would have died or sustained more severe injuries from his episode. We were in the right place at the right time with the right training to provide assistance. The Marines present demonstrated a great example of Marine Corps values and embodied the quote ‘no better friend, no worse enemy.’”
The U.S. Marines were participating in Marine Aviation Support Activity 23. MASA is a bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. Marine Corps aimed at enhancing interoperability and coordination focused on aviation-related capabilities. During MASA 23, Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. Marines conduct approximately twenty different training evolution including live-fire air assaults, and subject matter exchanges across aviation, ground, and logistics capabilities.