Army specialist helps injured man in subway
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Spc. Andrew Mayer was on his way home in the Ichon subway station near Gate 17 on Feb. 4 when he saw people crowded around a man who had collapsed.
The man, Kim Jin-hwan, had hit his head on the ground, witnesses said. They said Kim was leaning on the subway door and fell out when the doors opened. Mayer, a combat medic at the 121st Hospital, introduced himself.
“I came down the flight of steps and saw a bunch of people standing in a circle,” Mayer said. “They were protecting the man who had fallen. I said, ‘I’m a U.S. Army medic. Please move back, please move back.’”
Mayer checked Kim’s airway path, then his breathing and circulation. He put his head close to Kim’s to see if air came from his nose or mouth.
Baek Eun-kyung, a nursing student at Seoul Women’s Nursing University, said she already was on the scene and had checked the man’s condition. She said Mayer acted assertively.
“What he did was very helpful,” Baek said Wednesday. Mayer “aggressively came up to that guy and tried to measure his breath and pulse and he also tried to prevent the obstruction of the airway.”
The soldier “couldn’t speak a lot of Korean, so I helped him to communicate,” she said.
Mayer performed several jaw thrusts, a maneuver used to align a person’s airway to ease breathing. He also put a pen between Kim’s teeth to allow free breathing. Kim’s breathing improved, but the man was very tense, a sign of seizure, Mayer said.
Kim was taken to Yongsan Joonang University Hospital, where he refused treatment and was released.
Mayer’s chain of command is reviewing a recommendation that Mayer receive an award, said Maj. David Cobb, chief of the department of medicine. Cobb credits Mayer’s training to Staff Sgt. Milton Rodriguez-Reyes, who works in respiratory therapy at hospital.
Mayer, 31, originally is from Marshalltown, Iowa. He entered the Army in August 2002 and holds bachelor’s degrees in journalism and social science from the University of Oregon and a master’s degree in public administration from Portland State University.
“The people here in Korea made me feel very welcome,” Mayer said. “The good Army training that I’ve received … I think ensured the success of this incident.”
— Choe Song-won contributed to this report.