SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- A USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) spouse and member of the command Ombudsman team saved the life of an eight-month-old child in the San Diego area, thanks to the Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) training she was taught by Reagan's medical department.
The wife of Electronics Technician 1st Class Jeffrey Eckert went across the street to her neighbor's house Dec. 16 to exchange gifts and visit. There were no warning signs that Eckert would soon become a life saver by utilizing training she had received several months earlier.
"About a half hour after Micah woke up, he coughed really hard," said Eckert. "His eyes got really big and he started turning bluish."
According to Eckert, the mother got very anxious and panicky, asking her to assist in checking the child's breathing.
"The only thing that went through my head was, 'I know how to do this'," said Eckert. "I took him from her and flipped him over to perform CPR. Shortly after beginning CPR, his eyes got bigger, and he started crying. You could feel his lungs filling again. I don't think I've ever been happier," she said.
Eckert credits her training to the "Calamity Jane" program, a babysitting program for parents who need help during underway periods, which is offered through the command's Ombudsman program. Because Reagan spouses often help one another by looking after each other's children, the ship's medical department took it upon themselves to offer some type of infant and child CPR training to support the Calamity Jane program.
The volunteers from the Calamity Jane program came to the ship May 5 for an evening of training in order to learn the basics of CPR.
"It was great to see the corpsmen taking time out of their busy schedules, and even working late, to make sure we learned this invaluable lesson," said Eckert.
According to Lt. Cmdr. Michelle Huddleston, Reagan's nurse, the ship is allowed to teach CPR only to ship's company and command-sponsored groups such as the Ombudsmen.
"It's a win-win situation for both the women and the ship," said Huddleston. "If these spouses went out in town to get trained, it could cost between $200 to $300. This way we can not only save money, but keep our corpsmen trained as instructors."
Reagan's corpsmen are as happy to teach the course as those who end up taking the training.
"I was very proud to be able to teach CPR to people and now know it was practical in the given situation," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Scott Coffin, one of the instructors who taught Eckert CPR back in May.
"I am proud to teach the course but at the same time sorry to know the method had to be employed. It's a horrible situation to have to apply CPR to an eight month-old - very mentally and emotionally taxing," said Coffin.
According to Coffin, instinct plays a key role in the event an emergency does occur, especially considering the stressful environment that CPR causes. This belief is also shared by Eckert.
"I know that if I wasn't there, Micah's mother could have done it," said Eckert. "It hasn't really clicked yet. I just haven't been able to say to myself, 'you saved someone's life.'"
For related news, visit the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.