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Face of Defense: Navy Corpsman Saves Drowning Woman

By Gregory Mitchell, U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka

YOKOSUKA, Japan, Sept. 30, 2016 — U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka’s commanding officer, Navy Capt. Rosemary C. Malone, presented the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal to Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Blanchard, a hospital corpsman, Sept. 13 for saving the life of a drowning mother while he was serving on temporary duty in August at the Surface Warfare Medical Institute in San Diego.

“It’s pretty surreal,” Blanchard said of being honored. “I wasn’t expecting any recognition. I wasn’t aware that this was going to happen, but it is definitely an honor to receive this award.”

Around 7:30 p.m. Aug. 16, Blanchard, a native of Wilmington, North Carolina, responded to a call for help from two school-age children who approached the receptionist’s desk.

A Call for Help

“Due to the time of day, I couldn’t see what was going on outside, so I went over to the door,” Blanchard recalled. “There was yelling and screaming, and that’s when I saw people standing around what was a salt-water pool. I ran out to the pool, and after focusing for a few seconds, I could see that there was a person at the bottom.”

The person at the bottom of the 8-foot pool was an unconscious mother of two children who were present.

Blanchard immediately jumped into the deep end of the pool and brought the woman to the surface with the assistance of a couple of bystanders. Taking charge of the scene, Blanchard instructed all bystanders surrounding the victim to provide sufficient space to begin medical attention.

He was unable to feel the woman’s pulse.

Providing Aid

Emergency response was initiated by a bystander as Blanchard began administering CPR to the victim. After about 20 minutes, vomit began to gush from the woman’s mouth. After reassessing, Blanchard was able to feel a weak pulse before the arrival of paramedics and police officers.

Once the paramedics took control of the situation, Blanchard provided a statement to the police. Then, he consoled the victim’s 6-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son.

Victim Survives

Three days after the incident, Blanchard approached the hotel’s manager about the woman, and the manager informed him that she had survived and was in a local hospital and that family members had come to San Diego to care for her children while she was recovering.

Blanchard attributed his quick response to paying attention in basic life support class, which is held annually for all medical professionals.

“I think we all prepare for it, and never really expect for something like this to happen,” Blanchard said.
Distribution channels: Military