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Duty calls

ROTC cadet gives lifesaving effort while on international flight

Jerrod Fedorchik stands in front of a Brookings ambulance.
Jerrod Fedorchik, a South Dakota State University student who just joined the Brookings Ambulance Service, already has years of lifesaving experience. Also, this summer, while on a flight for an U.S. Army ROTC assignment, he administered a lifesaving IV to a passenger who had lost consciousness.

Jerrod Fedorchik, a 20-year-old cadet in the U.S. Army ROTC program at South Dakota State University, was 20 minutes from Amsterdam when a call went out that someone with medical training was needed in the back of the plane.

Fedorchik, who will be a junior this fall, had the training and offered his services.

He found a 19-year-old female Kuwaiti national unconscious in the bathroom. “Within about two minutes, she was starting to come back to consciousness. I leaned her against the wall and did her assessments. Her blood pressure was 90 over 60 and she was a small woman—100 pounds dripping wet. That’s dangerously low blood pressure.

“I asked the stewardess if they had an IV. The airplane had an IV bag and start kit. I started that, got her on oxygen and put a blanket on her to get her warmed up.

“By then, we had landed and the ground crew took over. I helped the ground crew with assessment and helped them start an electrocardiogram of the heart. When ground crew did its assessment, her blood pressure was 126 over 80. Within that 20-minute time frame, she got a lot a better. I can pretty confidently say she was fine,” Fedorchik said.

EMT by age 18

He has been trained as an emergency medical technician since taking an online class through Western Nebraska Community College during his senior year at Bridgeport High School in 2016. He started riding with the Bridgeport ambulance crew in August 2016—just as he was entering his senior year—and became certified in IV administration in January 2017.

He enrolled at State in August 2017 and joined the Aurora Fire Department as an emergency medical technician in November 2017. This summer, he was hired part-time as an EMT for Brookings Health System and also is an assistant instructor for the EMT class taught at State.

So, the dehydrated Kuwaiti woman couldn’t have been in better hands.

“Working on an ambulance, I was used to working in those confined spaces. We’d get calls that somebody collapsed in their bathroom. It’s having confidence in trusting my assessments, trusting my treatments and helping out,” the biochemistry student said.

Future as an ER doc?

Fedorchikhopes to become an emergency room doctor and has long had an interest in emergency medicine.

“Through being an EMT, I found I had a passion for it. I definitely grew up a little faster than I should have. Our (Bridgeport) ambulance had one of the highest amounts of highway miles in the state. I went out on a lot of highway accidents and I’ve responded to suicides of classmates,” said Fedorchik, who also is a community assistant at Young Hall.

His attendance at State is a reflection on the ROTC and chemistry and biochemistry programs.

When plans to enroll at West Point didn’t materialize, Fedorchik visited SDSU and came away impressed by the opportunities undergraduates had to participate in research and by the character of then-Professor of Military Science Corey Norris. Despite being nine hours from home and knowing no one here except Mike Daum—who lived 45 minutes from Fedorchik, he committed to State.

Since his freshman year he has been involved in chemistry research, has been serving on the Aurora Fire Department and has been on a national ROTC scholarship.

2 cadets selected for program

It was his involvement in ROTC that had Fedorchik on that June 29 flight. He and fellow SDSU student Laura Selman, of Colman, were selected to participate in the Cadet Coalition Warfighter Program, a highly selective program in which cadets learn the culture of another country to understand the lifestyle of those who live there and work alongside that country's military.

Fedorchik’s monthlong assignment was in Hungary; Selman’s was in Malawi.

Capt. Armando Canales, an assistant professor of military science at SDSU, said, “Fedorchik’s quick reaction, expert assessment and careful treatment of the passenger prevented a potentially deadly situation and reflect great credit upon him and Army ROTC/Cadet Command.”