Earlier this month, Deputy Nicholas Pacheco from the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office saved the life of a one-month old infant.
As a father himself, the incident made Pacheco reflect on the importance of knowing infant choking first aid and CPR — especially for parents.
Typically, Pacheco said, people expect to use these techniques on adults, if ever.
"But when the call came out that it was a one-month-old infant, your heart immediately started pumping," he said. "The only thing I could think about was 'Dear God, let me be able to use this training and save this baby's life.'"
At about 7:22 a.m. on Aug. 13, the sheriff’s office received a call from a home in Centennial. During the call, a mother told dispatchers that her baby was not breathing and was turning purple. She said she thought he was choking.
Pacheco, who was on patrol in the area, showed up at the home within five minutes, police spokesperson Ginger Delgado said. He was met by the baby’s father at the door and they ran upstairs.
"I immediately grabbed the baby," Pacheco said. "(He) was completely limp … his limbs were blue in color, his mouth and his face (were) blue in color. You could tell he was not conscious and not breathing."
Pacheco began giving the baby chest compressions and back thrusts, which he and his fellow officers learn in their annual training for pediatric choking first aid and CPR.
Within a minute of Pacheco's arrival, the baby coughed out a thick white substance, Pacheco said. Color returned to the baby's face and he started breathing and crying.
The moment brought Pacheco a "huge sigh of relief," he said.
Shortly thereafter, medical professionals from South Metro Fire Rescue arrived on scene and transported the baby to Children’s Hospital Colorado, where he was evaluated and cleared to return home later that day, according to the sheriff’s office.
In reflecting on the experience, Pacheco said it made him think about his own children, who are 9 and 11 years old.
"My daughters are my everything," he said. "Knowing that I have two daughters that I adore, it meant everything to me that I was able to save a life of a newborn one-month-old infant."
Pacheco knows choking first aid and CPR for infants because of his job — but he thinks these are crucial skills that would be beneficial for more parents to know.
"There's so many times in a parent's life where you think about, 'What happens if my child was to choke on this — I'd have to call 911 because I wouldn't know what to do,'" he said. "You hope you never have ever have to use the skill, but if ever happens, it gives your child a lot more likelihood of survival."
The American Red Cross offers online and in-person classes on pediatric first aid and CPR in locations across the metro Denver area. More information on their schedules and prices are available at www.redcross.org/take-a-class/.
Other organizations in the metro area offer pediatric first aid and CPR education, including Denver Health, which offers free classes for patients receiving prenatal care at Denver Health. Other organizations include Colorado Cardiac CPR and CPR Choice Denver. Potential students should check when registering for a class to ensure the curriculum includes pediatric techniques.
A week after saving the baby’s life, Pacheco returned to see the family.
"I’m so glad he’s healthy and he’s breathing," Pacheco told the parents in a video of the visit. "Thank you guys for letting me come back and see him."
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