On the verge of death, a small child in the North Bend, Washington, area was saved by a medic from the Washington Army National Guard and her teammates. They spotted the child in the back of a sport utility vehicle on April 6 and quickly went to her aid.
“It was clear that if it had not been for the efforts of PVT Gracie Hilinski, the young child would not have survived,” SFC Jesus Garcia said.
Before the incident, it had been a normal convoy for Headquarters Battery 2nd Battalion, 146th Field Artillery Regiment, which was traveling from the Olympia Armory to the Yakima Training Center. There was typical Friday traffic in western Washington and a fuel stop in North Bend.
“We just made our regular fuel stop at the TA truck stop in North Bend,” SFC Garcia said. “While we were there, I observed a black sport utility vehicle with a lot of movement going on.”
What Garcia was witnessing was a young girl in the rear passenger seat who had stopped breathing, became non-responsive and had no pulse, according to after-action reports about the incident.
“I heard a shout for a medic,” said SPC Brandon Isaacson, medic specialist. “I was searching for the reason when I looked over into the parking lot. I saw PVT Hilinski by an approximately 3- to 4-year-old child’s side with two or three other Soldiers.”
PVT Hilinski, a medic with the unit, was the first medic to arrive on the scene. When she did not detect a pulse on the young girl, she began administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
After several rounds of CPR, PVT Hilinski took a pause for rescue breaths.
“I felt a pulse, but it was weak,” SPC Isaacson said. “I confirmed with another Solider that 911 had been called and civilian medics were en route.”
PVT Hilinski began CPR again with the assistance of her fellow Guard Soldiers.
“I felt a radial pulse and found it getting stronger,” SPC Isaacson said. “SGT Richard Schutt found a radial pulse and agreed.”
After another round of compressions by PVT Hilinski, the patient began making sounds as if she was trying to breathe. They turned the young girl to her side and began patting her on the back. She was breathing, and it was getting stronger – then tears came from the little girl.
Emergency Medical Services arrived shortly after and escorted the family to a treatment facility.
“PVT Hilinski’s actions were immediate and confident, showing all the aspects necessary in a competent and effective medic,” SPC Isaacson said. “Jumping into a scene that terrifies many new EMTs, her actions saved the life of a child.”
“Based on my experience, I can say that PVT Hilinski saved that child’s life that day,” SFC Garcia said.
For her actions, PVT Hilinski received an Army Commendation Medal. SPC Isaacson, SGT Schutt and SPC Mitchell Potter each received the Army Achievement Medal for their assistance.
By CPT Joseph Siemandel, Washington National Guard