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Air force "Hot Shot" saves baby.

Lupe Covarrubias is a Hot Shot--a firefighter at Vandenberg Air Force Base on California's "Central Coast," midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. One Saturday last May, Covarrubias went shopping with his mother and sister at a Wal-Mart in nearby Santa Mafia.

His-mother and sister left the store, but Covarrubias stayed behind to look at CDs. Sounds nearby suddenly got his attention, however. "I was in the aisle over and I heard a commotion by the pharmacy," he told the Lompoc [California] Record.

Rushing over to the source of the sounds, Covarrubias, who was enrolled in an emergency medical class at Santa Barbara City College, found a dark-haired young mother who desperately was trying to revive her unconscious baby while crying, "My baby is dying! My baby is dying!" Covarrubias saw that the baby's eyes were shut tightly.

Covarrubias related what happened next to the Record: "I said, 'I'm not an EMT but I'm in training.' The dad said, 'OK, give it to him' so I took the kid."

"She was totally blue and purple but she was moving, so she had a pulse. I put her in a 45-degree angle with her head toward the ground. I had her chest in the palm of my hand."

"I did five back blows. After that you flip her over."

Covarrubias explained that that meant holding the infant's back while administering five chest thrusts. "You put pressure on the sternum, he continued. You continue that for about a minute."

"I was kind of like in a zone," he recalled. "It was like me and this little kid. It was their first child. It raced through my mind that I had this child's life in my hand."

Covarrubias then noticed movement coming from the baby: "She was trying to scream but I could see mucus [blocking her breathing]."

About that time, a Wal-Mart assistant manager, John Perkles, gave Covarrubias a suction device he had found in the Infants Department. "[Covarrubias] was in control," Perkles told reporters afterward. "He knew what he was doing. He wasn't panicking."

"I suctioned [the mucus] out," Covarrubias continued. "Then she started screaming."

An ambulance took the baby to Marian Medical Center, and the infant was released the next morning.

Covarrubias learned afterward that the baby was a four-month-old boy, not a girl, but at that age, and considering the excitement, it was an understandable mistake!

While all of the excitement was going on, Covarrubias' mother, Ana, realized her son was missing and called his cellphone three times from the parking lot. When he didn't respond, she sensed what he was up to: "I said [to my daughter, Sara], 'I've got a gut feeling he's in there helping someone --somebody had a heart attack or some lady fell."

The store manager offered a store gift certificate to Covarrubias, but he refused to accept it. He preferred to give credit to his training: "Being on the Hot Shots I've learned so much. This could happen to anybody. You have to learn to stop, relax, take a deep breath and see the big picture. I did a size-up in my head."
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Title Annotation:THE GOODNESS OF AMERICA; Lupe Covarrubias
Author:Mass, Warren
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Aug 21, 2006
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