Sabers take care of one another during in time of crisis

Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Aldridge, 52nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron, receives a visit at work from her husband Jon and their children Emma, 2, and Violet, 1. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrea Knudson)

Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Aldridge, 52nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron, receives a visit at work from her husband Jon and their children Emma, 2, and Violet, 1. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrea Knudson)

SPANGDALHEM AIR BASE, GERMANY -- It was probably going to be a typical Saturday morning at the Aldridge household. With four kids in the house, one might expect that to entail cartoons and cereal. Instead, an Airman found herself in the middle of a family crisis when she discovered her husband lying on the floor.

At approximately 8:30 a.m. Jan. 20, Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Aldridge, 52nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron, was startled by a thumping sound from somewhere in her home on Bitburg Annex.

"I was in the living room with my 1-year-old daughter, Violet, when I heard this banging," Sergeant Aldridge said. After tracking the noise to her bedroom, she discovered her husband inside pushed up against the door. "I asked him, 'What are you doing? Jon, get up.'" Sergeant Aldridge then asked her husband to move away from the door if he understood her. At this point, she realized what was happening.

What Mr. Aldridge, 25, was experiencing was diabetic shock as well as suffering from complex partial seizures; his third such episode since he was diagnosed with diabetes at 10 years old.

"(Typically), when my blood sugar level gets too low, it can be controlled by eating candy or drinking juice," Mr. Aldridge said. However, more severe situations call for emergency Glucagon injections to be administered. So that morning, with a bruised face, a bloody nose and an injured right eye due to Mr. Aldridge banging his head up against the door, Sergeant Aldridge knew he needed an emergency injection.

"I tried to sit him up, but he kept falling over. I knew I wasn't going to be able to give him the injection and when I couldn't find my cell phone, I went next door for help," Sergeant Aldridge said. What she found next door was more than help. She found a caring, supportive and "take-charge" neighbor who rushed to their aid.

"I told my younger daughter to call (for an ambulance) and I ran straight over with Elizabeth and saw Jon lying on the floor," said Master Sgt. Roger Pelletier, 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron. "I sat him up and put my knee against his back."

Sergeant Pelletier said Mr. Aldridge was kind of combative, but he wasn't swinging around or anything; he was just trying to get away. "I tried to comfort him and prevent him from hurting himself."

Since Mr. Aldridge was more stabilized, Sergeant Aldridge was able to give him two emergency injections. Sergeant Pelletier's daughters took the Aldridge's four children next door and waited in the house for an ambulance to arrive. When the Emergency Medical Technicians did arrive, they were unsuccessful in their attempt to start an intravenous drip. Unfortunately, Mr. Aldridge wouldn't sit still and was pretty confused.
"He ran outside and got into his car," Sergeant Pelletier said. "I wouldn't let him close the door -- even though he didn't have the keys. I didn't want him to lock himself in the car."

Sergeant Pelletier managed to extract him from the car and physically carried him to the ambulance. The EMTs told Sergeant Aldridge they would be taking Mr. Aldridge to the Bitburg hospital.

Another neighbor came to the rescue that morning. Master Sgt. Scotty Gifford, 52nd Fighter Wing Safety Office, drove Sergeant Aldridge to the hospital and cared for the children for the duration of their hospital stay, even bringing food to help in Mr. Aldridge's recuperation. He said there was no hesitation on his part to pitch in during their time of need.

"I am a father of three children myself; I place a high value on family," Sergeant Gifford said. "Caring for their children was a no brainer for us. Our children play and go to school together so it just made sense to care for them."
Mr. Aldridge stayed at the hospital most of the day Saturday while his wife tried to familiarize him with the day's events. He rarely remembers what happens when these episodes occur, she said.

"Jon usually will go out of it five to six times until he fully recovers with his blood sugar level going up and down," Sergeant Aldridge said. "He was released about 8 p.m. when his blood sugar level was finally normal."

As for the selfless actions of his neighbors, Mr. Aldridge couldn't be more grateful.
"It was shocking how (they) just stepped in and helped out," Mr. Aldridge said. "I find that a lot of people don't help when something like this happens. When I came back, I just kept saying, 'thank you, thank you, thank you.'"

Both Sergeant Pelletier and Sergeant Gifford agree that helping another is the best feeling you could ever have.

"Those that ignore or choose to not help are taking away from their personal happiness," Sergeant Gifford said.

Sergeant Pelletier added that it's within his nature to help out when someone is in need. "I didn't even think about it, it's automatic," he said. "I was just glad to help him."

For more than 15 years, Mr. Aldridge has treated his condition with daily insulin injections and additional medication he takes in the form of a pill, four times a day. He also maintains a healthy diet and exercises three times a week.