MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- “Forget this, call 9-1-1 and get him some help,” Acacia Williams proclaimed, project manager, G-6. She had walked into her boss’ office and noticed one of her co-workers in pain. Whereas others may have assumed he simply wasn’t feeling well, crucial first aid training helped her identify the situation and to take action that potentially saved her co-worker’s life.
It was a regular morning for Paul Clingerman, project manager, G-6. He came into work and began his normal routine. This morning, however, suddenly he started to feel his arms aching and throbbing.
As the aching and throbbing continued, Paul went to the restroom to try and gather his thoughts and find a solution to his pain. He soon realized he didn’t have enough strength to leave the restroom.
“I was praying for energy,” Clingerman said. “I just wanted the energy to get out of that bathroom so I could tell someone what I was going through.”
After finally gaining the energy to do so, he walked to his boss, James Wehr, deputy of operations, and sat in his office.
Clingerman soon felt as if he was going to pass out and asked to be excused because he needed to lay down.
“He looked white as a ghost,” Wehr said. “I didn’t know what was wrong but I knew something wasn’t right.”
Wehr started to ask Clingerman questions about what was bothering him and if there was anything he could do to help. Clingerman simply asked for a glass of water and some pain killers.
“I had no pain in my chest and all of my cognitive skills,” Clingerman said. “It was embarrassing for me. I don’t like having attention on me but it got to a point where I had to ask for help.”
When Williams came in, she had a strong inclination as to what was going on. With training she received at the base safety office, she knew the right questions to ask and she eventually made the decision to call an ambulance.
“I recently took a first-aid course through base safety,” Williams said. “The course teaches us to notice different injuries or potential injuries and how to react. I’m glad my co-workers and I had training to do something about the situation.”
Base safety provides a variety of courses and training for Combat Center patrons. They also provide mandatory training for service members aboard the Combat Center. Some of the courses provided are cardiopulmonary resuscitation training and general first aid. This training promotes early identification of potentially life-threatening situations.
“It is fantastic,” said Dave Horn, director, base safety office. “A person can take a couple hours or days and potentially save a life. Paul’s story is a perfect example.”
After the ambulances arrived, Clingerman was taken to Desert Regional Hospital and was told he suffered a heart attack.
“I could not believe it when they told me because I am a very healthy person,” Clingerman said. “But I am so grateful for my co-workers and anyone who helped because of how professional and quick they were. Death never crossed my mind but who knows what would have happened if I didn’t have wonderful co-workers to help me when I needed it most.”
Clingerman is currently spending his time recovering from his injury in San Diego but is excited to return to the work.
“I can’t wait to get back,” Clingerman said. “I feel brand new and I want to see and thank everyone. This incident and these people have made me really appreciate life, and taught me to never take anything for granted.”