KILLEEN — Of the nearly 383,000 people who go into out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year, less than 8 percent survive.
Due to the quick actions of one Apache pilot with the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, a Killeen man joined that 8 percent.
The Killeen Fire Department awarded Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Hughes, of the brigade’s 4th Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, the Meritorious Service Award at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center on Dec. 19, for the lifesaving measures he took to save a fellow Texas resident last month.
The department’s Meritorious Service Award is presented to private citizens who, through active interest, concern and effort, contribute to or assist the department in such a manner that distinguishes them and significantly benefits the department.
Hughes was driving back to Killeen on Nov. 9, after moving his mother-in-law from New Jersey to Texas, when he, his wife and his 12-year-old son stopped at a local self-storage facility to return a U-Haul truck.
The manager of the facility, Harvey Owen, began inspecting the trailer and finalizing paperwork. Mid-inspection, Owen began to stagger.
“When he walked back in the fenced area of the facility, he started to stumble,” Hughes said. “I assumed he tripped on a rock, but then he stumbled again and fell face-down after attempting to catch himself on a golf cart. I immediately ran to him to make sure he was alright.”
Hughes rolled Owen onto his side and asked him if he was OK; Owen told him to give him a minute. About a minute later, Owen took a turn for the worse.
“I tried to keep him talking and responsive, but he started breathing heavily, and after a short time, he started to turn blue,” Hughes said. “I told my wife to call 911, and I checked for a pulse. His pulse was faint, if any, so I tilted his head back and started rescue breathing.”
Hughes’ son ran across the street to alert a state trooper who was parked nearby, and his wife, instructed by the 911 operator, directed her husband to commence CPR.
“I got no response while rescue breathing, so I began performing CPR, and after about three cycles of chest compressions, he began breathing on his own,” Hughes said. “Shortly after, the paramedics arrived, and I was properly relieved.”
Paramedics informed Hughes that if he hadn’t performed CPR, Owen wouldn’t have survived.
Owen was rushed to the hospital in Temple, and was released weeks later after receiving lifesaving surgeries to remove blockages from his heart. He was healthy enough to present Hughes the award.
“The main reward for me is just seeing he is OK,” Hughes said. “I was just in the right place at the right time.”