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Boy's 911 call helps save 3-year-old sister who was choking on grape

The quick thinking of a 9-year-old South Pasadena boy helped save his 3-year-old sister's life when she was choking.
February 13, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
The quick thinking of a 9-year-old South Pasadena boy helped save his 3-year-old sister's life when she was choking on a grape.

The boy and the paramedics who responded to his 911 call were honored at a news conference on Thursday. The incident was used as a lesson on choking hazards.

Yaleona Santos' snack time became a life-threatening emergency as a grape slipped down her trachea.

"My sister is dying," big brother Jaequon shouted on the phone to a 911 operator. "She's choking! She's choking!"

Jaequon was hailed as a hero by the South Pasadena Police Department. He called in the emergency as his mother tried to extract the grape.

"Well, I just knew to give them the address and what was going on and then they would be right there," said Jaequon.

Rescuers say what made the difference was the minutes saved. It was a coordinated effort that started with Jaequon's call.

"You have got basically five to seven minutes before you start to see brain death. Fortunately for her, everything fell into place and was really rapid," said Capt. Eric Zanteson with the South Pasadena Fire Department. "It is a culmination of everybody's efforts that made everything work so perfectly."

Jennifer Santos saw her 3-year-old daughter hopping up and down in distress and then the toddler started fading in and out of consciousness.

She took the toddler to the parkway in front of their apartment building. A Good Samaritan, Max Storer, stopped to help with CPR. But the grape -- squishy and slippery -- could not be extracted, even by paramedics.

"It was slippery. Every time she would try to take a breath, it would draw back into her trachea and block her airway," said Zanteson.

But the CPR and chest compressions helped, giving her enough air to feed vital oxygen to her brain until doctors at Huntington Memorial Hospital could take it out.

Now, her mother has learned that grapes and hot dogs are major choking hazards. She says she is going to take a first-aid class to learn more.

"The life you're going to be able to save might be one of your loved ones," said Jennifer Santos.


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