PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif.- Kristin Martin saved her infant daughter's life at her Ord Military Community residence, June 6, thanks to her quick-thinking and a firefighter who taught her CPR.
Martin said she was eating lunch with her two daughters when her one-year-old, June, began choking on a tortilla chip. The coughing fit soon escalated but nothing the 31-year-old mother of three from Tallahassee, Florida, did, dislodged the chip.
Martin dialed 911.
She sent her three-year-old daughter to her neighbors to get help as she took June to the front lawn, hoping for a good Samaritan to walk by; but no one came - neighbor or passerby. Martin was on her own.
The nurse-by-trade then did what she never expected she would have to do, she began CPR on her own daughter.
Muscle memory from a CPR class kicked in. Without hesitation she alternated between palm-faced back blows and chest thrusts, dislodging the tortilla chip just as firefighter Keith Fulton and Presidio's Engine 61 came blaring to the scene - a matter of moments Martin said felt like "forever."
Fulton called the scene he walked into "amazing." The only sign a life had almost been lost were the tears still rolling down Martin's face. Baby June was OK.
"I walked in and it was Kristin who was in obvious distress, but her daughter looked amazing - not even crying," Fulton told Presidio Public Affairs in a phone interview Thursday.
According to Fulton, Martin saved her child's life in record speed, as his engine arrived no more than three minutes after dispatch and about 5-6 minutes after she made her 911 call.
Then the mother and firefighter realized that what happened that day came because of a serendipitous meeting earlier this year.
"I was telling Kristin what a good job she did and that's when she told me, 'I took your [CPR] class,'" Fulton said. "Right off the bat I was emotional - proud, happy."
The 31-year-old Army veteran and Paradise, California native, who once cleared fires while deployed to Afghanistan said he began teaching CPR at the Presidio to overcome a fear of public speaking by sharing knowledge about something he knew well and believed in.
Fulton said the five-hour class certified by the American Heart Association teaches adult, child and infant CPR, use of the automated external defibrillator - a portable device that uses electric shocks to restart a heartbeat, and the use of a naloxone nasal spray to counter opioid overdoses. The class costs $25 for local military residents, cheaper than the $125 Martin said she saw offered outside the Ord community.
More importantly Fulton said, "[CPR] empowers you - it gives you to the power to intervene."
"I knew what I needed to do," she said. "Had I not known [CPR], I wouldn't have been able to save my own daughter's life."
On June 17, Presidio garrison commander, Col. Greg Ford, presented Martin an Award of Exemplary Action and Fulton the Civilian Service Commendation Medal for instructing Martin and more than a hundred local residents on CPR the past five months.
For information on how you can get CPR/AED certified contact: Army Community Services at the Gen. Stilwell Community Center at (831) 242-7760 or the Presidio Fire Department at (831) 242-7701.