North Bend, OR-based rescue swimmer honored for saving the life of fellow aircrew member

NORTH BEND, Ore. — A Coast Guard rescue swimmer received the Meritorious Service Medal April 30th during a ceremony at Coast Guard Sector North Bend’s base.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Chad Morris was recognized for his lifesaving actions on the morning of Oct. 22, 2019, at approximately 9:30 a.m. Morris responded to a fellow aircrew member who was suffering acute ventricular fibrillation leading to cardiac arrest while standing duty at Coast Guard Air Facility Newport.

The Meritorious Service Medal is a military award presented to members of the U.S. Armed Forces who distinguished themselves by outstanding achievement during peacetime.

The duty aircraft commander called on Morris, the duty rescue swimmer, and emergency medical technician, after finding the duty flight mechanic slumped over a computer terminal not breathing and lacking a pulse. After directing a call to 911 and requesting an ambulance, Morris ordered the on-duty copilot to begin chest compressions. Meanwhile, he ran to the helicopter to grab the automated external defibrillator and attached it to the unresponsive flight mechanic. While awaiting the AED scan Morris started mouth-to-mouth in coordination with the chest compressions. The initial scan form the AED reported “shock advised” and Morris quickly initiated the shock.

During CPR procedures, Morris continued monitoring the AED scans. Four full AED scans were completed before first responders were able to arrive.

Morris also directed a call for assistance from the on-duty crew from the local LifeFlight station, and when the life flight duty crew arrived they administered medications and performed advanced airway procedures. The ill Coast Guard flight mechanic was quickly transported to Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital in Newport and then transferred to Oregon Health and Sciences University Hospital in Portland for further care.

“Coast Guard rescue swimmers have a daily impact on the lives of the American public, but rarely do we get a chance to save one of our own,” said Chief Petty Officer Roderick Ansley, chief of the Sector North Bend aviation survival technician shop. “Possibly rarer is a first tour rescue swimmer receiving the Meritorious Service Medal.”

Five separate agencies, Coast Guard, Seal Rock Fire Department, Newport Fire Department, Pacific West Ambulance, and LifeFlight, all responded and worked cohesively to aid and save the ill Coast Guardsman.

“Without a doubt, AST2 Morris’ actions were instrumental to saving the life of the Coast Guard flight mechanic,” said Capt. Kevin Nolan, Sector North Bend’s flight surgeon. “He recognized the medical emergency and took decisive action. His quick decision to use the AED is what brought the flight mechanic back to life.”

The Meritorious Service Medal is a 1 ½-inch-in- diameter bronze medal made up of six rays expanding out from the top three points of what would be a five-pointed star. Two smaller stars outlined with carved edges are within the star. Standing upon two branches of upward-curving laurel, in front of the bottom of the star, is an eagle with its wings upraised. A ribbon joins the laurel between the feet of the eagle. Encircled on the reverse side is the inscription “United States of America” and “Meritorious Service.”

Cmdr. Michael Baird, aircraft commander, MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, and Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Smith, co-pilot, MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, were both awarded the Coast Guard Achievement Medal for their life-saving efforts.

United States Coast Guard