Lowell officers save choking boy
Quick-acting pair of patrolmen perform Heimlich, CPR on 3-year-old
By ADAM HOLLAND
Monday, December 13, 2004 - LOWELL Precious seconds ticked away as Officer Dararith Ung raced to 89 Kearney Drive on Saturday night, where a frantic mother cradled the limp body of her 3-year-old son.
The boy, Andrew Carrabis, had been choking on something. Now, he wasn't breathing.
When Ung arrived less than a minute after the dispatcher's call, the mother had carried the unconscious boy out to the driveway. He was bleeding from his nose and mouth. Everyone was screaming.
Ung calmly instructed the mother, Kathleen Carrabis, to put the child on the grass. He checked the boy's mouth for foreign objects but couldn't find any.
Ung called for an ambulance.
Then, Ung picked up the boy and tried to dislodge whatever was obstructing his windpipe with five Heimlich maneuvers in rapid succession. Nothing.
He rested Andrew on the ground and tried several back blows, again with no success.
When Officer Robert Alvarez arrived about a minute later, the boy's face was blue. He had no pulse.
"I didn't have a good feeling when I saw him," Alvarez said.
As first-responders, Lowell police officers receive CPR training each year. Saturday night, in about three critical minutes, this training may have saved the little boy's life.
Alvarez rolled the boy onto his back, opened his airway and started chest compressions. After about one minute of CPR, the boy's eyes rolled open. His arm twitched. His chest moved ever so slightly. He began to wheeze, breathing very shallowly.
But he was breathing.
"I've done CPR on so many people that didn't make it," Alvarez said, smiling. "But this kid ... it was awesome."
When paramedics arrived about a minute later, they were able to dislodge the large fireball-type candy from the boy's throat using a small pair of tongs.
The boy was crying a good sign.
He was taken to Saints Memorial Medical Center, where his condition was stabilized, then to Children's Hospital in Boston for further care.
He was listed in serious condition there last night.
Sgt. James Trudel praised the word of Ung and Alvarez, 12- and 10-year veterans of the police force respectively.
"Those officers showed to have done an exemplary job in their duties," Trudel said. "Our prayers are with the family."
The boy's parents were still at the hospital last night and could not be reached for comment.