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CPR course helped N.M. woman save her young son's life

PECOS, N.M. Pecos mother Joellen Chavez says there are two main reasons why her son Isaiah, 2, is still alive today. One reason, she said, is "the man upstairs."

The other is a cardiopulmonary resuscitation course she took 11 years ago.

Chavez said both helped Isaiah survive an accident May 22 at her parents' house in Pecos.

On that day, Chavez, 31, briefly lost track of Isaiah when she went to answer the front door. The toddler, who is the youngest of Chavez's five children, wandered into the backyard.

He made his way to his grandparents' swimming pool and looked under the pool cover in search of "fishies," he later told his mother. Isaiah's curiosity took a disastrous turn,however, when he fell into the pool.

Chavez said her intuition told her something was wrong.

"All of a sudden, it just got too quiet," she said.

She walked into the backyard toward the pool. The surface of the water was calm, but through the pool cover Chavez could see something lying at the bottom of the pool.

Because the water distorted her depth perception, she said she didn't initially realize the object was Isaiah.

"It didn't look like a body at all," she said. "I thought that it was an animal -- a dead bird or a dead squirrel or something."

Chavez was about to leave the pool area and search the rest of the property, she said, but "something told me that I needed to look in the pool right now!"

She pulled back the cover and saw Isaiah lying in 3-foot deep water. Chavez plucked him from the water.

Isaiah's face was bloated, and he was unconscious and not breathing. Chavez started performingCPR."I laid him down and juststarted doing stomach CPR, then mouth-to-mouth and then chest compressions," she said.

During the chest compressions,Isaiah's nostrils flared andwater came out his nose.

Chavez then performed the Heimlich maneuver, and Isaiah threw up much of the pool water he'd swallowed.

At this point, Isaiah's face had an unnatural grayish hue.

Chavez had seen the same color on her grandmother's face years earlier just before her grandmother died.

She knew she didn't have time to call 911 and wait for an ambulance. Chavez rushed to her car and called the Pecos Valley Medical Clinic. Medical workers told her to bring the child in.

At the clinic, Isaiah was stabilized.

"The baby was hypothermic and extremely low on oxygen," said Dr. L. David Young, the clinic's medical director, who assisted in Isaiah's stabilization.

"His lungs were in shock. ... He needed to go (to St. Vincent Regional Medical Center), but he needed to be stabilized too."

Isaiah spent the night at St.

Vincent for observation. He recovered from the episode quickly and subsequent checkups indicate he shouldn't suffer lingering health effects.

Considering her son probably spent several minutes underwa-ter, Chavez said his survival is nothing short of a miracle.

Young said the incident shows how knowledge of basic first aid can save lives.

"CPR can be done by anyone," he said, and Chavez's firstaid efforts undoubtedly saved Isaiah's life.

The Pecos Valley Medical Clinic is planning to offer free CPR classes to the public later this summer, Young said. An exact date for the classes hasn't been set.

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