Where would we be without the men and women who dedicate their lives to others every day? First responders wake up each morning, never knowing what the hours ahead will bring.
Will they fight crime, give out traffic tickets, or arrive on scene at a horrible accident? Police officers, paramedics, and firefighters have to be ready at a moment’s notice.
Some situations induce panic easily, which is why first responders are specially trained to keep their cool while under pressure.
It is because of one cop’s quick action and situation preparedness that a little girl’s life was saved in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Ana Graham was spending the day with her two young children at The Gardens Mall on July 21. William is 2 and a half and little Lucia is only 14 months old.
The trio visited the food court, where they sat to enjoy some lunch. The children were eating a kid favorite — chicken nuggets and fries.
According to The Palm Beach Post, Lucia has been on solid foods since she was 9 months old. She’d never had a problem with them until that day at the mall.
“On her second bite, I noticed she looked at me with her eyes wide open,” Ana Graham told The Palm Beach Post. “She started turning red.”
It’s every mother’s worst nightmare. Thankfully, a pair of officers happened to be having lunch at the food court at the exact same time.
Officer Robert Ayala had been eating with Officer Rafael Guadalupe. Ayala was on security duty for the mall, while Guadalupe was just there for a meal.
“Perfect timing” is an understatement. Ayala knew exactly what needed to be done when he saw Ana trying to help her choking baby.
Ayala has three children of his own. He’s been required to undergo CPR and first-aid training every other year by the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department.
A security camera recorded the entire ordeal. Watch as Ayala steps in while Guadalupe joins him and radios fire and rescue.
After what probably felt like hours rather than seconds, Lucia spit the chicken nugget out. Ayala saved the day. “This thing happened so fast,” he told The Palm Beach Post. “You didn’t have time to react. It’s just like muscle memory.”
As for Ana Graham, she and her husband, Curt, are thankful for the officer’s life-saving action. Ana has taken this incident to heart, and is using it as a way to encourage other parents to get CPR training.
“I will be contacting Wellington regional hospital to set up an infant CPR class for anyone interested…” she wrote in an August 4 Facebook post. “…Lucia’s story has touched us all and I want to make sure we all get educated and know what to do! I hope we can get a big group.”
Hopefully nothing like this will ever happen to the Graham family again. But if it does they won’t forget Officer Ayala’s action, and how it made them more aware of just how dangerous even the smallest bit of food can be.
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