TAMPA — The deputies haven’t forgotten the panic and screams from the mother when they responded to a call that her 7-month-old child had stopped breathing.
"She was just so distraught," said Marlon Garcia, 35, a deputy who has worked with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for about three years. "I’ve got kids of my own. You don’t forget something like that."
His partner, Jordan Lowe, 24, said they’ve administered CPR on many people — maybe once a week, she estimates — but never on a child so young.
"Once we heard the child cough up, I just felt so relieved," said Lowe, who has been a deputy for just over a year.
Garcia, Lowe and about a dozen other deputies were honored Wednesday during the sheriff’s office’s quarterly award ceremony.
Many had responded to calls of someone not breathing, including deputies Isaiah Naylor, Ryan Garlock and Daniel Henry. They pulled a Brandon man out of a car sinking in a pond and performed CPR until fire rescue could take him to a hospital.
The sheriff’s office also handed out "Citizen Awards" to Hillsborough residents for aiding law enforcement. In two of those instances, they kept people alive long enough for paramedics to arrive.
Carlos Alvarez, 43, a computer repairman, was fixing a Dell for an elderly client. During the repair, the man started screaming that his wife was dead in the next room.
Alvarez, who moved here from Miami this year, called 911 and an operator told him to perform CPR.
"I learned CPR in high school, but I’ve not done it since," he said.
Alveraz said he makes four or five service calls a day.
"It was so real. I was shivering," he said. "The family thanked me when we made it to the hospital."
Ryan Wendt, 33, from Westchase, was walking her dog with her father when a helicopter crashed on the roof of a house near by.
Moments before, Wendt had heard a high-pitch squeal. Clearly, there was something wrong, she said.
Though she has a fear of heights, Wendt climbed onto the roof of the house and found the pilot laying outside the aircraft.
"He was just going in and out of shock," she said. At one point, the pilot stopped breathing while in Wendt’s arms.
"That is the scariest thing you can ever see," she said.
Paramedics later told her if she had not run over to help him, the pilot would likely have gone into cardiac arrest.
"I just happened to be there at the right time. I would do it for anybody," Wendt said.
Contact Jonathan Capriel at [email protected] Follow @jonathancapriel.