RAF Alconbury firefighter saves his daughter’s life

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jennifer Zima
  • 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

A U.K. national firefighter was recognized for his heroism at RAF Alconbury, England, June 16, 2020, for saving his daughter when she was choking on May 16.

Lee Joyce, 423rd Civil Engineer Squadron lead firefighter, noticed his four-year-old daughter, Lilah, was choking on a chocolate egg and had turned blue due to lack of oxygen. He sprang into action, applying his knowledge learned during his training as a firefighter.

Joyce looked for the airway obstruction using the finger sweep but didn’t see anything. Then he placed his daughter over his knee and applied repeated back blows to no avail. Eventually, on the fifth attempt, the chocolate egg dislodged itself from her throat.

After the candy was removed, Lilah began to hyperventilate due to shock. Joyce utilized his home pulse oximeter to ensure her vitals went back to normal. After the event, the family doctor was contacted for a follow-up.

“Without a doubt he saved her life,” said Jay Evett, 423rd CES fire chief. “Had he not found her at that moment and performed the actions he did she would have died. The fact he was able to keep his composure when his daughter was close to death and his intervention prevented that, is a testament to his professionalism under extreme conditions.”

Joyce was awarded the Fire Department’s Life Saving Medal. He was the second recipient to ever receive this award at RAF Alconbury. It is designed to formally recognize performance of a lifesaving act whether on or off duty, which is not something that happens every day.

“As firefighters we may not all have the chance to save a life, even though we come to work each day expecting that today is the day,” said Evett. “Sometimes the opportunity happens when you are off duty, and it may not be a total stranger but a loved one.”