(readMedia)– It was a normal day for 1st Lt. Justin Lipes and his wife driving through Peoria, Illinois. Little did they know April 8, 2018 would quickly turn into a day they would never forget.
Lipes and his wife noticed a car stopped in the middle of the War Memorial Drive and University.
Lipes of Roseville, Illinois, with the 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in Normal, and former Macomb, Illinois policeman, said his first thought was the driver was drunk.
“As we got closer it appeared that the driver was hunched over looking for something on the floor board of the car,” said Lipes. “We sat at the red light at the intersection and he didn’t move for several minutes.”
Lipes said after making it through the intersection with the man still not moving he turned around to see what was wrong.
“I couldn’t just drive by this, I knew this would cause an accident or something,” said Lipes. “As I was coming back to the intersection a woman jumped out and ran from the car.”
Lipes said he knew something was not right when he saw her run away. Lipes confronted the woman and asked her what was going on.
“The woman told me the driver was sleeping and I knew right then that something was really wrong,” said Lipes. “I pounded on my car and told my wife to call 911 and I ran down immediately to assess the situation.”
Lipes said it was a very busy intersection so he had to block traffic to get to the car.
“I started pounding on the window of car yelling at him and he didn’t respond. So I tried to open the door and it was locked,” said Lipes. “So I ran around to the other side and opened the passenger door.”
Lipes said after pushing the driver back in his seat he could see his eyes were rolled back and there was foam coming out of his mouth.
“To me he looked dead already,” said Lipes. “I ran around the car, opened the driver door, hooked under his arms, laid him on his back, tilted his head back and opened his mouth to try and clear his airway.”
Lipes said he then began doing what he had learned in the Infantry Combat Lifesaver Course.
“I gave him three good knuckle sternum rubs and the man didn’t react at all,” said Lipes. “So I started doing chest compressions.”
Lipes said he knew that his wife had already called 911 so he planned to do chest compressions until medical personnel arrived if necessary. Lipes said a nurse showed up shortly after and took over for him.
“I let the nurse take over so I could go track down the female that had fled from the car,” said Lipes. “I found the woman who had fled the scene and told her she needed to wait here until the police arrived.”
Lipes said his Illinois Army National Guard training played a major role in his ability to assess the situation and take appropriate action.
“I didn’t have any medical training before I got in the Army,” said Lipes.
Lipes said that he didn’t think for a moment he was saving someone’s life.
“When I was doing it, it was pure reaction, you train for that stuff and hope you’ll never have to use it,” said Lipes. “It just so happened that I got to use and it wasn’t on a battlefield.”
Josh Bradshaw, community resource manager at Advanced Medical Transport said anyone can save someone’s life, but must be willing to step in.
“Bystander intervention is key and we like to recognize people like Lipes because we want to encourage others to act when faced with an emergency situation,” said Bradshaw. “Faster than any police car or rescue vehicle is a willing person in the area of an emergency.”
Lipes said he was raised to help those who need help, whether that’s opening a door for someone or something more serious.
“Out of this whole situation I hope that the moment that the man was brought back to life was the first moment of the rest of his life,” said Lipes. “I hope he makes better decisions moving forward and in the future if faced with what I was he is able to pay it forward.”
Lipes was given an award by Advanced Medical Transport of Central Illinois for his heroic efforts. Lipes said he hopes new guardsmen take training seriously because you never know when you may need it.
“I was a young Guardsman once too and I know we get put through a lot of training,” said Lipes. “Medical training is something we can’t gloss over, it’s training that could save our family, people we love or a perfect stranger.”
Bradsaw said without the quick reaction of Lipes the outcome of this situation could have been much different.
“We hope people see this article about Lipes and are empowered to take action the next time they see someone in need,” said Bradshaw.