Carroll County police recruit saves choking week-old infant

December 13, 1992|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

One family is very lucky that Richard Schinzel didn't pause to change out of his work clothes before he turned on the pager he monitors as a volunteer cardiac rescue technician in Finksburg.

The young man was just sitting down to dinner after a full day of training at the police academy in Anne Arundel County, where he is a recruit officer set to graduate in January. He got home just before 6 p.m. Dec. 1.

Not five minutes after Mr. Schinzel turned on the pager, he got a message that a week-old infant was choking.

He knew that a "basic life support" unit was being dispatched to help the baby, but he decided to drive right over to the house on Hollingsworth Road, only about two miles from his own home on Emory Road.

Mr. Schinzel arrived before the ambulance, and the panicked father who answered the door motioned him into the kitchen, where the baby lay on the table and the mother was on the phone with the 911 dispatcher.

By this time, the infant had stopped breathing, apparently from coughed-up phlegm that had blocked her airways, Mr. Schinzel said.

"The baby wasn't sick at all -- it was a very fluke thing," Mr. Schinzel said. Before they knew it was phlegm, the bewildered ** parents had been asking their other child whether a foreign object might have gotten into the baby's mouth, Mr. Schinzel said.

At first he tried to blow air into her lungs, but was unsuccessful. He pressed on the baby's chest, which caused the air in her lungs to forceout the phlegm and clear the airways.

Mr. Schinzel blew into the baby's mouth again, and this time she began breathing. She started coughing and crying again, he said.

"It all happened so fast -- it was like, one, two, three," Mr. Schinzel said. The baby had probably stopped breathing no hTC more than a minute before he arrived, he said. He doesn't even think the parents had been aware the baby had stopped breathing completely, and he didn't tell them.

He said he doesn't make a practice of giving parents more to worry about than they already have.

"The less stressed they are, the better I'm able to do my job," he said.

Mr. Schinzel, 25, is single and lives with his parents.

He said he plans to continue his volunteer work with the Reese fire company even after he becomes a full-time police officer in Anne Arundel County.

"I think I'll enjoy police work," he said. "I enjoy helping the public."

He has had one other call for a choking baby in his five years as a cardiac rescue technician. He was able to save that baby, too.

"I think the calls with infants or babies affect you, whether you're successful or not, more than other calls," he said.

"You think about it afterward a lot -- what if it didn't work? You picture what the baby looked like even after a while."

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