It was a scary moment at the Ft. Custer Training Center, Augusta, Michigan, when a Cadet fell approximately 31’ from the “Tough One” obstacle during a joint exercise between Cadets from the University of Michigan and Wayne State University Army ROTC.
Luckily for all involved, Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Cavanaugh, Soldier with the 413th Regiment, 4th Battalion, a police officer at the University of Michigan and former Emergency Room Technician was on the job.
His attention to detail, expertise and communication skills were critical during the incident.
Cavanaugh was stationed at the “Skyscraper” obstacle with a team of Cadets when he heard a “thud” from the Tough One’s padding. The subsequent yell of “Medic!” told him all he needed to know as he ran toward the fallen Cadet shouting “don’t move him!”
Upon arrival Cavanaugh saw the Cadet’s upper torso and head were on the ground with his lower body on the pole vault padding and the Cadet was laying on the right side of his body, facing away from the obstacle with blood coming from his mouth and nose. Cavanaugh immediately noted the labored breathing and vertical nystagmus of the Cadet’s pupils, all of which pointed toward possible head injury. Also increasing the intensity of the situation was the fact that the Cadet was actively seizing at the time. Cavanaugh immediately notified that front gate of the situation and confirmed that an ambulance was dispatched to their location.
As Cavanaugh and his Soldiers waited for the ambulance they kept the Cadet on his right side in a “recovery position” to keep his airway open and in case he vomited from the head injury. Although his eyes were open, the Cadet was unresponsive to verbal questions and it was confirmed that the Cated had fallen from the top of the obstacle to the mat below.
After approximately two to three minutes, the Cadet began to come around and answer questions, although his short-term memory seemed compromised. Cavanaugh continued to monitor the Cadet, ensuring that despite lower back pain he was able to move his feet/toes and hands as asked. The ambulance arrived and Cavanaugh was able to relate all relative information to them to assist in proper treatment of the Cadet.
In celebration of his quick thinking and immediate medical aid, Cavanaugh was honored by the University of Michigan as “Hero of the Game” during one of their home basketball games last fall.