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Garland firefighters praised for quick actions, new life-saving device in rescue of 5-month-old

Garland firefighters' new life-saving device, quick actions save 5-month-old baby
Garland firefighters' new life-saving device, quick actions save 5-month-old baby 02:04

GARLAND — A Garland mother is praising the quick actions of Garland firefighters, who used a special device to save her choking baby's life. Now the device is even saving lives across the state.

"I turned my back really quick and then turned back and she was choking," mother Marytza Mendes said. 

She says it only took a matter of seconds for her five-month-old baby, Camilla, choking on her own saliva.

"It was so scary. I could do nothing for my daughter at the moment. It hurt my heart and broke me," Mendes adds. 

Her family called 911, and veteran Garland firefighters, Kelsey Kasper and Melody Gunnoe rushed to her home in their ambulance.  

"Whenever we showed up, she was blue she wasn't breathing well," says Gunnoe. 

Gunnoe explains she and Kasper only had minutes to save the baby's life. That's when Kasper thought to use a new device they just put in their ambulance called a LifeVac device. The department just ordered about two dozen of them two weeks ago.

"We never used it before, but instantly she started crying and we knew everything was going to be okay," Kasper adds.

The LifeVac device basically works like a suction cup. You put the mouthpiece on the patient and then press air into the device to create a suction, and that pressure helps clear the patient's throat. According to the LifeVac website, the device was invented by its CEO, "who heard of a woman in a hospital weeping following the death of her young son. The reason for his death was that a grape had become lodged in his windpipe and the Heimlich Maneuver did not work. Once he heard the story he set out to invent an apparatus that could clear an airway."

The firefighters say it's very easy to use and can be bought online by anyone. 

Even more departments across Texas are making sure they have one of these on hand. 

Body camera video released by the Austin Police Department shows officers using the device earlier this month to save a boy choking on candy. Garland says they plan on ordering more devices. They urge other departments, schools, and parents to also invest in one. 

"I think every household should have one, especially if they have a little kids and not just little kids are made for adults and children. You could not just save yourself, but save a neighbor," Kasper explains.

Mendes also says she plans to buy one and that she is truly grateful for the paramedics who had the right device to save her little girl. 

"I'm really thankful they acted really fast and I couldn't ask for anything more," Mendes says.

For more information on the LifeVac device, click here.

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