Bell Gardens student, 12, reunited with first responders who saved his life after cardiac arrest

Shayla Girardin Image
Wednesday, November 29, 2023
Bell Gardens student reunited with first responders who saved his life
A 12-year-old boy who went into cardiac arrest at his Bell Gardens school got the chance to thank the first responders who saved his life.

BELL GARDENS, Calif. (KABC) -- Sept. 14 was a day that changed 12-year-old Alexis Viveros' life forever.

"All I remember is being in PE class, changing and just starting the warm up lap," the 7th grader recalled.

Alexis is a student at Bell Gardens Intermediate School and was just starting his PE class. He says the next moments were a blur.

"Remembering that day is horrifying," said his brother Eufemio Viveros. "It sends shivers down my spine all the time."

Alexis had gone into cardiac arrest. Campus safety officers and school nurses responded immediately. Moments later, Bell Gardens police officers and firefighters from Station 39 arrived at the scene. They performed life-saving measures and transported Alexis to the hospital.

"We started to perform CPR," said Sgt. Ruben Catani of the Bell Gardens Police Department. "We didn't know exactly what was wrong."

It was a slow road to recovery, but Alexis now has a pacemaker and is back in school. Tuesday was his first reunion with the first responders who saved his life.

"It means a lot to me," Alexis said. "They're somewhere special in my heart."

It's a day he and the first responders will never forget.

"It makes officers feel good," Catani added. "It makes fire personnel feel good as well because this is stuff that doesn't get noticed."

"We go on so many calls every day, you don't always know the outcome," firefighter-paramedic Thomas Sullivan said. "It's rewarding hearing the outcome."