Emergency medical technicians arrived on scene and stated that the man behind the wheel had suffered a stroke. In the moments before the incident, what seemed like a simple decision turned into something much greater; the difference between life and death.
For 1st Lt. Morgan White, the communications officer for Marine Wing Support Squadron 274, Marine Aircraft Group 14, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, this situation tested her will to act as she became the deciding factor in saving a stranger’s life.
“I was on my way to work, and as I approached a stop sign, I saw a truck coming at a weird angle toward me,” said White. “It sort of dipped and bounced into a ditch off the side of the road. I drove forward to look back and see if the driver was okay.”
As White pulled-in closer to the stalled vehicle, she observed the driver, an elderly gentleman, who appeared to be shaking in the driver’s seat.
“I pulled over, ran to his truck, opened the door and found he was seizing,” said White.
It only took a moment for White to register the situation. She knew that the first thing to do was clear the airway and allow for proper breathing. After the combat lifesaver training she received at Marine Corps Officer Candidate’s School, she said that it all came rushing back to her.
“I tried to hold his head upright and make sure he remained still,” said White. “When he stopped [shaking], he was drooling and I could tell it was difficult for him to breathe. I ran to my truck for my phone and called 911, and at this point, someone else had also stopped to assist.
“We both got through at the same time, and once help was on the way we started to see if we could make it easier for him to breathe. We kept talking to him to keep him responsive, but initially, he wasn’t at all. At one point, in fact, he stopped breathing.”
EMT’s arrived and were able to rush the man to the hospital. Without the rapid decision-making demonstrated that day, the outcome of the situation may have been much worse.
“The Marine Corps teaches you to make hard decisions,” said White. “When life throws us questions that we don’t know the answer to, we’ve learned to quickly think on our feet. When I pulled over and saw the man that appeared to be in duress, all that training kicked in. I jumped out of my car and immediately started doing what I thought was the best thing.
“When I saw him start to come back, a wave of relief flooded me. I don’t know what would have happened if no one had stopped. I was very thankful that I made that decision and was able to help him.”
Originally a criminal justice major in college, White said she has always had a hunger for challenges and helping people in need.
“I don’t like injustices for people who can’t help it, so if I can be in any position where I can make things better for those around me, it’s a good use for what I was learning in college,” said White.
Rather than staying in one place her whole life, White grew up in a fast-paced military lifestyle. With a father in the Navy for over 20 years, White’s family moved around to many areas of the country including Florida, California, Alabama and Mississippi.
“I really enjoyed the military environment,” said White. “Growing up, I saw the family that’s created within the military. I knew whether I did it for four years or 20, it was a good way to develop myself as a leader.”
In her day-to-day tasks, White states she always tries to lead her Marines with fairness.
“One of my pet peeves in life is when leaders make rules and regulations, and then don’t follow it themselves,” said White. “If I say that we are going to do something, I mean we are all doing it together. I love my Marines and they are what makes my job worth it. The challenges that they present on a daily basis are never easy, but I enjoy it.”
White states that in her job, every day brings something new to the table. Whether she is cleaning weapons with her Marines or pulling over to the side of the road to provide lifesaving assistance, she will always be willing to lend a helping hand.
By Cpl. Mackenzie Gibson