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Volunteer firefighter saves choking toddler

The firefighter, with only two years on the department, said he was just thinking about the training he had when the woman handed him her lifeless child

By Alan Rizzo
The Watertown Daily Times

POTSDAM, N.Y. — A local firefighter will be honored after acting quickly to save the life of a child Wednesday afternoon.

Village resident Lisa B. Reynolds said she was stopped at the red light on Main Street near the Christian Fellowship Center when she noticed that her 2-year-old daughter, Anna, was choking on a mint she had gotten from a local bank.

“I heard noise that indicated that she couldn’t breathe and it was stuck,” said Ms. Reynolds, who immediately stopped her car and went to help clear her daughter’s throat, first trying to tilt her forward in her seat, then moving the 2-year-old outside the car to try clearing her airway using Heimlich maneuver procedures.

“She was kind of like a dead weight; it was hard to hold onto her,” she said. “I thought I was going to lose my daughter.”

When her efforts failed, Ms. Reynolds said she ran to the village fire station at the urging of drivers nearby, and that’s when Potsdam volunteer firefighter Brad W. Andrus responded, taking the child and patting her on the back. Ms. Reynolds said her daughter then vomited and spit the mint out.

“The moment that she could breathe again, I was relieved,” she said.

Mr. Andrus, who has been with the Potsdam Volunteer Fire Department for two years, said he doesn’t consider himself a hero, just a volunteer doing his duty.

“I was just thinking about the training that I had,” he said. “I grabbed the child, put her on my arm, gave her three good pats on the back, and dislodged the object from her airway.”

First Assistant Chief Danielle M. Rose, who had just left the station when the incident took place, said Thursday that she was amazed at how well Mr. Andrus performed the rescue, having received only a small amount of training in comparison with Potsdam Rescue Squad members.

“We train on this once or twice a year; it’s not something we deal with every day,” she said. “Normally the rescue squad deals with calls like this. But it just happened at our fire station, and it’s amazing that Brad knew exactly what to do, sprung right into action.”

Ms. Rose said the department is now working to recognize Mr. Andrus by sending letters of recommendation to the Northern New York Volunteer Fireman’s Association and other organizations, and plans to give him a life-saving award, which may be presented with the help of state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton.


(c)2015 Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, N.Y.)

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