(From left) Col. Dennis Barron, Middle East Region commander – West; Lt. Col Aiden S. Maxfield; Col. Larry J. Ragland, CAP national executive officer; and Maxfield’s younger brother, Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Brannen Maxfield.
Photo by 1st Lt. Beau Bentley
Capt. Lynne Albert
Public Affairs Officer
North Carolina Wing
Cadet Lt. Col. Aiden S. Maxfield of the Burlington Composite Squadron received Civil Air Patrol’s Silver Medal of Valor at the 2017 North Carolina Wing conference in Durham for his actions attempting to save his grandfather during a medical emergency despite great danger to himself.
Col. Larry J. Ragland, national executive officer for CAP, presented Maxfield with the medal – the highest decoration that may be awarded to a member of CAP. It recognizes distinguished and conspicuous heroic action, at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of normal duty."
The cadet came to the assistance of his grandfather, Ward Maxfield, during an outing June 4, 2015, on Oregon’s Mount Hood. As they neared the peak’s summit and passed 11,000 feet in elevation, the elder Maxfield collapsed, then slid 400 feet down the ice field and off an ice shelf.
As soon as the cadet saw his grandfather slide past him, he turned and began to run down the ice field. He quickly realized that running was too dangerous, so he sat down to perform a controlled slide down the ice. He had to move his ice ax from side to side to maintain control and reach his grandfather as quickly as possible.
When he reached his grandfather, the cadet recognized a significant possibility of spinal injury. Drawing on his CAP training, he took charge of the rescue effort, quickly assessing the scene, identifying what needed to be done and determining who was available to offer assistance.
Checking his grandfather’s vital signs, he found the older man wasn’t breathing and had no pulse. He then directed others to assist in repositioning his grandfather so CPR could be initiated. Because of where he had fallen, the party had to lift him onto a small ice shelf to have room for CPR. The cadet directed the others in proper stabilization and positioning for the move.
The cadet initiated CPR but found that because of the severity of the fall his grandfather’s head and neck area had been compromised, making a clear airway impossible to achieve. The cadet decided chest compressions would have to suffice, and he administered them about 20-30 per minute. He switched off between two of his uncles until a mountain rescue team arrived and advised them that it was time to stop CPR.
While they were providing CPR, large ice chunks, some 1-2 feet in diameter, repeatedly fell from the top of the mountain and hit them. Many people were telling them the situation was too dangerous and that they needed to move from where they were.
The cadet knew the risk involved in continuing, but he persisted in trying to save his grandfather to the best of his abilities, even though the rescue effort ultimately proved unsuccessful.