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NEWS | Dec. 17, 2015

Naval Health Clinic Charleston Sailor saves baby

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Mark Simon Naval Health Clinic Charleston

A Joint Base Charleston Sailor is being honored for saving the life of a choking baby Halloween night. 

Seaman Colby Johnson, a general hospital corpsman serving at Naval Health Clinic Charleston, was volunteering on "Pumpkin Patrol" with his wife and two Airmen in a housing area at Joint Base Charleston - Naval Weapons Station, when two parents ran out of their home screaming their baby had stopped breathing.

Johnson, 19, who works in Pediatrics at NHCC, was the only medical staff member at the event and quickly took control of the situation.

"I felt the infant trying to breathe," Johnson said. "Respiratory problems are always serious, so I knew I had just a few seconds to come up with a good plan and every second mattered."

Johnson relied on his Basic Life Savers training and immediately began the pediatric Heimlich maneuver, which included five back slaps, followed by five abdominal thrusts, for several cycles.

"As I performed the Heimlich maneuver, I would hear small cries," Johnson said. "So I kept repeating the cycles until I heard the infant burst into an all-out cry, then I knew the airway had been cleared."

Firefighters arrived at the scene shortly after and administered oxygen until emergency medical technicians arrived.

Johnson credits the two Airmen he patrolled with for calming nearby residents, and his wife, Heather Johnson, for reassuring the parents their baby was in good hands.

"Colby works in the medical field for pediatrics," Heather said. "That's why I volunteered us for Pumpkin Patrol, so he could help a child in the case of a medical emergency."

"After the incident, we were all in shock, but I was, and still am, very proud of him," she said.

On Dec. 4, 2015, NHCC Commanding Officer Capt. Elizabeth Maley awarded Johnson the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

"We have Sailors who do great things every day," Maley said. "What Hospitalman Johnson did was extraordinary. His focus and determination saved the life of a child. He embodies the Navy's core values of honor, commitment and courage. We are incredibly proud of his heroism."