By Ms. Jennifer M Caprioli (IMCOM)May 13, 2010
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- About a month ago Staff Sgt. Daniel Arizmandi, a drummer for the 36th Army Band, was heading to his mailbox with his dog, Vato, at his side, when he heard yelling.
"As I\'m closing the mailbox, I hear a lady screaming hysterically," he explained.
"At first it sounded like someone was just playing around, but then it started sounding serious."
As the young sergeant turned his head, he saw a woman running toward him holding a baby. The baby, 1-year-old Blanca Amill, was choking.
"She [the mother] handed me the baby," he explained, describing her feeling more "wet teddy bear" than an infant.
"Her head just hung and she was foaming [at the mouth] a little bit," he noted.
Arizmandi began administering the Heimlich maneuver, which, he explained he had learned to do through first aid training in the Army.
"Then I switched to the baby [version]," he said, noting he had never received training on how to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation to a child.
"I think I picked it up from watching the news," he added.
After about three minutes and still no response, he still continued. Meanwhile, Vato was contributing by standing next to Blanca's mom, Georgina Amill, and comforting her.
He noted Blanca was hiccupping and crying, and coming in and phasing out for about five minutes, until the ambulance showed up. "She had come to by then," he explained.
He says as he handed the baby off the ambulance personnel he began to feel the aftermath of an adrenaline rush. Later that night the family knocked on his door to thank their baby's hero.
Georgina was finally calm enough to explain to Arizmandi what happened.
"The baby started choking on a piece of food and when that happened she fell, which put her in shock," he explained, noting that Blanca looked healthy and she was laughing when they stopped by that night.
"[Georgina] told me if it wasn't for me bringing her back in those five minutes [Blanca] might had some brain damage," he added.
"I never imagined I would [give CPR] to a baby.
It's a different feeling having a baby's life in your hands, as opposed to an adult." Arizmandi believes fate put him at his mailbox that particular day, at that specific time.
"It's crazy because normally when I get home I blast the radio, change [and] do chores," he explained.
"But for some reason, this day, I felt like I needed to check the mail. If I would have had the music blasting I would have never heard the screams."
"I felt like I did a good deed," he added. "I've been to Iraq but that's a different kind of deed; something like this makes me feel like I have some kind of good karma coming to me."
Arizmandi is a native of Brownsville, Texas. He joined the Army after graduating from high school and has been enlisted for eight years.
He said he plans to keep in touch with the family. They attended an award presentation April 29, on post, and noted he attended a barbecue at the Amill's residence a few weekends ago.