Tech. Sgt. Kenneth O’Brien, special tactics section chief from the 320th Special Tactics Squadron, was selected as one of the 2019 Outstanding Airmen of the Year and on his way to receive the award at the Air Force Association conference responded to an in-flight emergency.
On September 11th O’Brien was on a flight with his family from Okinawa to Dallas, when he noticed that a 1 year old child was unconscious and unresponsive due to a blockage in the child’s airway. Another passenger initiated first aid to the child with back thrusts, but was unable to clear the blockage.
O’Brien stepped in and conducted at least two rounds of back thrusts and finger sweeps in mouth before the blockage was cleared. O’Brien also performed CPR to get oxygen to the child. After about a minute of the child regaining consciousness, O’Brien handed the child back to the parent/guardian. O’Brien continued to check on the baby throughout the rest of the flight.
“I’m thankful that the child is ok and that I was able to help when the family needed support,” said O’Brien. “I happened to be in the right place at the right time.”
He had an eventful year from being a part of President Trump’s security team for the North Korean Summit to saving children in the Thai cave rescue of 2018.
“We are very proud of Tech. Sgt. O’Brien,” said Lt. Col. Charles Hodges, commander of the 320th Special Tactics Squadron. “He continues to step up when there is a need for leadership and action. This incident demonstrates without a doubt that O’Brien epitomizes the Air Force’s core values and rightly deserves the honor and selection as one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.”