By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Philip Wagner, Jr. Naval Medical Center San Diego Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO – Nov. 23 began like any other day for two Sailors assigned to Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD). Ensign Janean Wujek and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Stephanie Moor were spending their liberty with loved ones at the San Diego Zoo. In a matter of moments, however, what started out as a leisure activity quickly turned into a life-saving situation when the two Sailors’ training was called into action.
"While walking, I noticed a large group of people frantically looking down at something on the floor. As I approached I noticed a man approximately 65 years of age lying lifelessly on the ground. I informed [the bystanders] that I was a corpsman from the Cardiac Rehab Clinic at NMCSD and asked if they wanted help," said Moor.
Wujek, a registered nurse assigned to NMCSD’s Mental Health department, was with her family on the way to see the hippopotamus exhibit when she saw an alarming sight.
"There was a woman saying ‘stop, don’t go over there, there is a man getting CPR [Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation]’. My mind clicked into ‘Nurse Mode’ and I immediately ran over, announcing that I was a nurse and quickly assessed the situation,” she said. “When I arrived, the victim was not breathing; he was blue as a blueberry and had a thready pulse, so we continued with chest compressions and rescue breathing."
The patient was later identified as Navy veteran James Thompson, who served as an Interior Communications Electrician in the Navy from October 1965 until November 1969 on USS Coral Sea (CV 43) and USS Kearsarge (CV 33), and visits family in San Diego on a regular basis.
His friends were thankful Moor and Wujek were able to offer assistance.
"[Thompson] was a walking time bomb and he was lucky that it happened when he had expert people to help him,” said Debbie Andreen, a family friend.
Thompson shared his thoughts on the situation.
"I’m at a loss for words. Their dedication to duty - it’s awesome. Coming to the aid of a complete stranger; I would just like to say thank you for their help," said Thompson.
Thompson spent eight days at Scripps Mercy Hospital, where he had a pacemaker defibrillator implanted. Following his surgery, Thompson was released and is currently on his way back to his home in Clearbrook, Minn.
San Diego Zoo representative Christina Simmons expressed her gratitude for Moor and Wujek’s quick responses.
"It is always an honor to have service members visit. We are very grateful the two that were at the zoo were able to be there in this family’s time of need."
The two NMCSD staff members received a standing ovation during December’s Director, Department Head and Senior Enlisted Leaders meeting.
"I am incredibly proud of Ensign Wujek and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Moor. They represent what Navy Medicine is all about: saving lives and making a difference for those who need our help," said Rear Adm. C. Forrest Faison III, commander, Naval Medical Center San Diego and Navy Medicine West.
For more information from Naval Medical Center San Diego, visit http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcsd, www.facebook.com/NMCSD, or www.twitter.com/NMC_SD.