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NEWS | Nov. 1, 2021

Airman’s daughter saved by JBSA-Lackland firefighter

By Jason Wilkinson 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

“The whole time I’m carrying her, I can feel her fading … choking, gasping for air, as well as a little blood coming out of her mouth.”

On Aug. 18, Senior Airman Brian Chambers found his daughter choking and drove her to the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Fire Station 1.

Jacob Mathie, lead firefighter for the 502nd Air Base Wing at JBSA-Lackland, was able to perform first response triage and unblock the child’s airway.

Chambers, a contract specialist with the 502nd Contracting Squadron, had grilled the day before, and on a Thursday evening, his wife was eating some of the leftovers. He was upstairs when he heard something no parent wants to hear.

“I heard my wife yell ‘she’s not breathing, she can’t breathe,’” Chambers said. “I ran downstairs, and my wife was trying to give her CPR.”

The wife was holding their younger child, so Chambers took over the CPR attempts. He was unable to clear the blockage.

“I haven’t been trained in CPR, but I was trying to do what I have seen,” Chambers said. “I even tried to hook it out of her throat, but that wasn’t working either. At that point, I could see a little blood in her mouth.”

Chambers made the decision to take her to the hospital. On the way there, he began calculating the time needed to get into the emergency room and get medical attention. He worried it was time he did not have.

“To get there, park, carry her inside, and then tell them what’s going on – it would take too long,” Chambers said. “So I decided to take her to the fire station.”

As he pulled into the fire station, he could feel his child fading. It was then that he came into contact with Mathie, a person not only familiar with first responder CPR but a CPR instructor as well.

“I had just got done working out and was doing some laundry, which is in our stalls, when a vehicle pulled up front slamming on the horn,” Mathie said. “A gentleman jumps out of his car holding a blue, limp baby that’s not moving or breathing – he hands the baby to me and says ‘help me.’”

After determining what had happened, Mathie began CPR.

“After about a set and a half of the Heimlich, I was able to get the hot dog out of her throat,” Mathie said. “I rubbed her chest to get her to breathe, and she started breathing.”

Mathie reports that color started coming back, but they loaded her into an ambulance to have her fully checked out.

Chambers said his daughter almost instantly appeared as though nothing had happened, but the hospital visit confirmed that she was fine. He did indicate that hot dogs are off the menu for a while, however.

Parents interested in CPR courses can contact the American Red Cross for classes near them.