Lieutenant recognized for saving life on rafting trip

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nicole Celestine
  • 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Sometimes all you have to work with is what you know.

On a sizzling Fourth of July weekend in 2008, 2nd. Lt. Janine Shreve, 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, put years of military training to good use when she helped saved a man's life. On April 23 of this year, the 446th Airlift Wing recognized the Medical Services Corps officer's act of heroism with the Air Force Commendation Medal.

Just over a year ago, Lieutenant Shreve saved Dane Marriott's life after he dove head first into 18 inches of water in the Green River, in Vernal, Utah. She saved Marriott after he sustained a broken neck and lost consciousness.

Lieutenant Shreve, a Price, Utah native, said she was invited to a white-water rafting trip on Green River on July 6, 2008. She said it would be the first time she rafted and thought it would be fun. The University of Utah's Doctorate of Public Health student decided to go on the trip at the last minute. She was one of 20 people, including river guide Jeremy.

Lieutenant Shreve, an 11-year Reservist, said the 20-member group rode about halfway down the river when they stopped for lunch and that's when the fun stopped.

"We noticed that Marriott was floating in the water face down and not breathing," the Lieutenant said. "He had jumped in and passed out in the water, presumably having hit his head," she added.

Lieutenant Shreve and Jeremy pulled Marriott's lifeless body to shore where they immediately assessed his airway and started prompt medical care. She said Marriott's symptoms indicated his neck might be broken and he had been down in the water no longer than five minutes.

"He was unresponsive, had a purplish complexion and was not breathing. His eyes were full of dirt, rolled back in his head and his abdomen was full of water," Lieutenant Shreve said.

"It was so crazy. Everything stopped, except for him," Lieutenant Shreve said. "Jeremy and I were the only ones who knew how to do CPR. We looked at each other and knew what we had to do. It was so clear in my head. I just knew what I had to do. It was so hard core," she said.

While Jeremy and Lieutenant Shreve tended to Marriott, she directed one of the people on the trip to notify Park Rangers, who were about a mile up the river training.

By the time the Rangers arrived, Marriott's pulse was faint and his color was coming back. Using a back board and tape, Lieutenant Shreve secured Marriott safely to the board.

Saige Davis, one of the people who recommended Lieutenant Shreve for the medal, said having the lieutenant there that day was a blessing.

"It has been the most spiritual event in my life," Davis said. "If I had not invited these last two people, Jeremy and Janine, I feel that Dane would not be with us. I still cannot believe the professional and calm manner in which Janine handled herself. She did a great job."

Stephanie LeBeau, another person on the trip and who celebrates her birthday on the anniversary of the incident, has more to be thankful for, than just cake and ice cream.

"I am thrilled to hear that Janine received this award," she said. "Janine is a true blessing to us. I know that had Janine and Jeremy not been included on our trip, Dane would not be with us now. They immediately knew what needed to be done and handled it in a very professional manner. We stood back and watched them save a dear friend of ours' life, and for that we can never be grateful enough."

While she said she knew she had a responsibility to save Marriott's life, the Lieutenant admits the experience was a milestone for her. She said she was only able to tell her family and two friends, who are also in the military, about the incident.
"They were very supportive because they knew it was such a traumatic experience for me and I didn't want to talk about it at the time."

Lieutenant Shreve said she was surprised to receive the medal because she said saving lives was part of her job. She said the experience will become an invaluable educational tool she'll use in her lesson plans as part of her studies. The Lieutenant said she attributes 100 percent of her ability to save Marriott to her military training, including CPR and Self Aid and Buddy Care training.

"I'm just thankful for my military career and the training it's provided me," Lieutenant Shreve said. All the training the Air Force gives you is for a reason. My advice is to pay attention to every word in the Self Aid and Buddy Care and CPR training classes," she added.

Today, Marriott is alert, actively involved in physical therapy and his spirits are high. He has all his mental faculties and partial use of his arms and legs.