There's no such thing as a typical day at the office

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Panarisi
On countless occasions, I've been asked "What's the best thing about being the Commander at AEDC?"

I don't have to think for a second...the answer is easy... "It's the people."

Now, usually I'm thinking about the amazing work we do here, how we always find a way to get the job done, or how we've innovated our way out of a tough problem. But on this day, it was an act of heroism that occurred at our PMEL shop that made me incredibly proud to be on Team AEDC.

The day may have started out like any other, but the ending was a story of clockwork execution, perseverance and a dedication to a colleague that we'll all remember for a lifetime.

It's not every day you come to work thinking, "I'm going to save someone's life today."

This day it happened. And we'll all be forever grateful to those who had a hand in taking their friend, their colleague and, most importantly, someone's husband and father, back from the brink.

Michael didn't ask for help. He didn't have time. One minute, he's working the bench; the next he's on the floor with an erratic heart and no pulse. His colleagues leapt to his aid. Another called 911. Others headed for the door to guide the EMTs that they knew would be there in minutes. Gary and Dale (one a former EMT) teamed up for two-man CPR and kept it going until help arrived. Our very own were on the scene in minutes and took over.

Still no pulse. While they worked their magic, others coordinated with the dispensary, started communication with Harton hospital and did all the little things to ensure NOTHING slowed this train down.

Before long, what started as the beginning of a tragedy had the makings of a miracle. Michael was on his way to the ER with a pulse and our finest at his side.

The team in Tullahoma was cocked and ready. Families were notified and en route. Everyone did their job to perfection.

This story has a happy ending.

Check that. This story has a PHENOMENAL ending, all made possible by selfless acts, ice-cold composure under pressure, and a relentless "not on my watch" effort to pull their teammate through.

It's hard to describe the pit you get in your stomach when you're pulled out of a meeting, and all you hear is "man down in PMEL, coworkers performing pulse."

I can't thank all those involved enough. I was in a funk when I got the initial call. But there's a comfort about it all, too.

I know who's on the way to help. I know the dedication of all those around him. And I know that if there is a chance our guy is going to pull through, it's because he's here...with us...with this team.

This is what makes AEDC special.

Yeah, this same story could probably be recounted at other bases. Sure, lots of us have had CPR training, and everyone who's ever watched "ER" knows EMTs and paramedics are supposed to pull this off.

But I for one wouldn't want to be anywhere else if this happened to me. Nowhere have I ever felt so much caring for each other, backed up with the actions that prove it. This day put any doubts to rest.

There are a million lessons to learn and highlight from this story, but there's one I don't want anyone to miss.

Our Boy Scouts think it's so important, it's their national motto. "Be Prepared."

CPR saved a life that day. Hours of training was put to the test. Endless exercises and drills became real. When your chance comes, will you be ready?

I've taken countless hours of CPR training, as far back as I can remember when I earned my first merit badge (first aid).

Now I'm going back for a refresher, and I'm going to keep going back until I'm dreaming this stuff.

You can, too. Stay tuned...I'm opening the floodgates and soon you'll see more classes on CPR than Col. Mittuch has miles logged and marathons run. Take one. Take two. Whatever it takes.

You'll never know when the guy across the bench, cubicle or table will be counting on you.

I've seen posters that declare "Success happens when opportunity meets preparation."

I'm preparing myself to be ready if the opportunity arises. Please, join me.