TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Vacations are typically a chance to unwind, but what happens when there is an emergency in paradise? While enjoying time off in Hawaii, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Harris Belmonte, 60th Inpatient Operations Squadron critical care shift lead, rendered life-saving aid to a stranger in need.
Belmonte and his spouse took leave and went to Hawaii for their honeymoon. They were heading to Halona Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, on November 3, 2022, to take photos of the local scenery and no more than 30 minutes later, they heard screams for help.
“I rushed over immediately and saw an individual lying down appearing to be unconscious,” said Belmonte.
Upon arriving, Belmonte saw roughly eight people gathered where the yells originated from. He noticed a nurse directing good Samaritans helping, but they were performing improper CPR techniques.
“I felt at that moment, that it was my responsibility to take charge of compressions and have someone else focus on giving breathes,” said Belmonte. “Training kicked in.”
As a critical care technician, Belmonte says situations like these are practiced at the hospital frequently and afterwards the unit will debrief to discuss what went well and what didn’t.
According to Belmonte, he rendered two cycles of CPR, and after an assessment of the patient, a weak pulse and breathing was observed.
“We turned him over and put him in the recovery position,” said Belmonte. “We tried talking to him while rubbing his back, but he wasn’t responding.”
Belmonte noticed that while the man was in the recovery position, he was demonstrating agonal breathing – A reflex of a person who isn’t getting enough oxygen and is gasping for air.
As the situation continued, Belmonte heard the nurse shout, “We don’t have a pulse!”
“At this time everything got silent and my only focus was on the patient,” said Belmonte. “I wasn’t going to lose this man’s pulse.”
Belmonte administered one more cycle of CPR until the first responders arrived and took over the man’s care. The paramedics were able to maintain a pulse and transported the patient for further treatment.
“Looking back, it really did feel like we were at the right place at the right time,” said Belmonte.
Belmonte explained that he and his wife planned to get an earlier start to the day and visit a different area but noticed a lot of people at Cockroach Cove, so they decided to check it out.
“He was so calm and collected as he ran over to assist the man that was taken out of the water,” said Betty Belmonte, spouse of Harris Belmonte.
According to Betty, this is just who Harris is.
“Our son always tells my husband that he is his superhero,” said Betty. “That day, he showed his superpowers!”
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