FORT LEE, Va. -- On an evening in January, the Torrez family was returning from a shopping trip in Colonial Heights, and as they pulled into Jackson Circle, they realized that two-year-old Bella was vomiting.
“I turned around and noticed her eyes rolling in the back of her head, her shaking, and puke running out of her mouth,” said Eva Torrez, mother and wife of Staff Sgt. Joshua Torrez, Ordnance School. “My husband immediately stopped the car to get her out and I yelled at the gate guard to call 911 and for help.”
It was during a shift change, and one of those gate guards was Officer Jorge Brathwaite, who jumped into action.
“I immediately called in on the radio and called for the emergency medical services and fire department,” he said. “The father was trying to help her from choking and I took over for him and kept doing the Heimlich maneuver on her. I tried to keep her warm. An EMS showed up and he took over for me.”
The family ended up bringing her child to Chippenham Emergency Room where the family found out she had a seizure, although they didn’t discover the reason.
Brathwaite – an Army veteran – received a civilian award for service from Col. Hollie Martin, garrison commander, but he was quick to point to the other responders on the scene and attributed his response to the training conducted by the EMS on Fort Lee and his Army training.
“I don’t think I deserved the award,” he said, choking up. “I want to give credit to the fire department for reinforcing the first aid training.”
It was the first time Torrez dealt with the post responders, and she said it was a great experience.
“Everyone on shift that night rocked,” she said. “We definitely appreciate all their quick reaction and service. The responders were quick to arrive and all were very friendly. They even gave Bella a teddy bear and blanket.”