Owasie Reid, a New York City EMT, was with a partner transporting a nursing home patient the Wednesday before last. As they were driving by a school in Brooklyn they were flagged down by a man who said that his 7-year-old girl was choking on her lunch and needed help. No one at the school was assisting the child, and so he did what any decent human being would do: he stopped and administered 1st aid, believing that the choking girl took priority over the stable nursing patient in his ambulance.
By the time Reid got to her, Noelia Echavarria had already turned blue. He cleared out the girl’s mouth, gave her an oxygen mask, and used a defibrillator and CPR to try and restart her heart. Sadly, his efforts seemed to have been in vain: the girl had been without oxygen for too long and after being declared brain dead, has since passed away.
Adding insult to injury in this situation, Reid was suspended without pay for making an “unauthorized stop” during the transport. It seems his superiors with the city of New York lack all common sense. “I don’t regret any of it,” says Reid, noting that he would do it all again. Good for him! We should be docking the pay of his supervisors; people who would apparently sacrifice a child’s life in the name of bureaucratic procedures.
Let this also be a reminder to all parents and teachers: it’s very likely this girl could have been saved had someone (anyone) gotten to her sooner. There isn’t a lot of media attention paid to the threat of choking, but it happens all the time. There are a number of free resources www.keepyourchildsafe.org that deal with choking prevention, including printable coloring sheets that teach kids the Heimlich maneuver. Please take some time to prepare you’re own family or student.