WILL ROGERS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Okla. -- A group of Airmen from the 137th Special Operations Wing, Will Rogers Air National Guard Base, Oklahoma City, were eating their lunch at a nearby Cicis pizza restaurant when chaos came running in the door just before noon, Jan. 31, 2019.
“A bunch of kids came running in the restaurant yelling, ‘Call 911! Call 911!’” said Master Sgt. Scott Crim, 137th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron (137th SOLRS) heavy mobile equipment mechanic.
Following the flurry of children, a mother was holding a baby – less than 2 years old and not breathing.
“You could definitely tell that the baby was lifeless and just lying there,” recalled Crim. “Understandably, [the mother] was panicked and didn’t know what to do.”
While in the car, the baby had stopped breathing in her car seat, and the mother stopped at the nearest establishment for help.
A Cicis employee began calling 911, and that’s when “Crim ran to the counter and jumped into action,” said Master Sgt. Hunter Rench, the 205th Engineering and Installation Squadron Vehicle Maintenance Superintendent who was part of the lunch group.
Crim took the baby from her mother and held her facedown over his knee, patting her back to try to clear her airway. When that was unsuccessful, Crim began to perform the Heimlich maneuver, or stomach thrusts.
“I could hear the baby wanting to breathe, so I slowly kept doing it and suddenly she just let out a breath of relief,” said Crim. “A little fluid came out of her mouth, and I started rubbing her back and comforting her while I kept her upright.”
Crim and the other Airmen stayed with the baby and her shaken family until emergency personnel arrived. They were then transported by ambulance to The Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City, according to a police report. All of the baby’s vitals were stable and her oxygen levels were normal prior to leaving the restaurant.
“Seeing that baby lifeless, my body just reacted,” recollected Crim. “I noticed no one was moving, so I moved. I ran and did what I could. We had to do something about it.”
Though Crim said his actions were based on instinct, he also said he couldn’t have done it without his wingman, Tech. Sgt. Jacob Hanchett, who is also a 137th SOLRS heavy mobile equipment mechanic.
“He was the voice in my ear the whole time,” said Crim of Hanchett.
Hanchett kept onlookers back and tried to keep the family calm while paying attention to Crim every step of the way.
“I was just talking to Scott (Crim) and keeping people back,” said Hanchett. “It seemed like it was a lot longer than it probably was. Realistically it was probably two minutes, but it seemed like an eternity.”
Recently completing the Red Cross instructor certification course, Hanchett’s priority was being there for Crim.
“If you have two people, it’s always best,” continued Hanchett. “I was there in case Crim got worn out. It’s just important to have someone there with you in case you lose your train of thought or to keep people back. I needed to be there so that he could do what he needed to do.”
Back on base, Crim was coined the same day by Chief Master Sgt. Shane Smith, 137th SOLRS Vehicle Management chief enlisted manager. He was also coined Feb. 5, 2019, by Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Potts, Oklahoma Air National Guard command chief master sergeant, and Brig. Gen. Thomas Ryan, Oklahoma National Guard assistant adjutant general – air.
Smith, who sees both Crim and Hanchett daily, said that service before self was nothing new to the pair.
“We preach to our folks to ‘be ready,’ and sometimes that readiness is just a call to act now,” Smith said. “I’m blessed to be surrounded by heroes every day. Everyone who wears the uniform places service before self, and these guys were able to put that into practice in an extraordinary way.”
According the police report, “It was obvious that the actions of (involved person) Crim contributed to the victim’s [name redacted] well-being and recovery from her oxygen-deprived state.”