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May 12, 2011

Off-duty paramedic resuscitates Ill. 1-year-old

By Sarah Sutschek
Northwest Herald

McHENRY, Ill. — Joel Arnier was back on his boat Thursday, two days after he went fishing and ended up saving a 1-year-old's life.

On Tuesday, Arnier and a friend were going to call it quits for the day around noon, but decided to go back to where they had better luck earlier.

About 1 p.m., they saw a woman run into the water and pick something up – a small child who had been floating facedown in the Fox River off Colby Drive near McHenry.

Arnier, a paramedic with Addison Fire Protection District who lives in Burton;s Bridge, said his instincts immediately took over. He persuaded the mother to give him the baby, and he began resuscitation efforts.

"I know what to do," he said. "I've seen this situation before, and I'm not afraid to attempt a resuscitation. That's my job."

But the little girl was limp, not breathing at all.

Mouth-to-mouth wasn't really working because of all the water in her lungs, Arnier said, so he began chest compressions.

He continued the compressions for a few more minutes until she began to cough up a little bit.

"I noticed her trying to draw her own breath," Arnier said.

She coughed up some more water, and her color started to improve.

"Her arms began to move a little bit, and she reached up and touched her ear," Arnier said.

When he handed the baby over to paramedics from Nunda Rural Fire Protection District, she was breathing on her own, Arnier said. She then was taken to Centegra Hospital – McHenry and eventually transported to Rockford Memorial Hospital.

"It was pretty much a stroke of luck or maybe something a little more powerful," Arnier said.

Two other young children were on the shore but not injured.

He said he was just doing what he's trained to do, but Arnier joked that it wouldn't hurt if God wanted to send a few extra fish his way anyway.

Republished with permission from the Northwest Herald


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