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Caught on camera: Valley father saves 8-month-old baby from choking

The father credits his training as a teen lifeguard for his quick actions.

PHOENIX — A Phoenix father’s quick thinking saved his infant daughter from choking after steamed carrots lodged in her throat.

It was dinner time for 8-month-old Blake. Her mother, Kalin Diroma, was watching her eat when she saw her gag and thought, “that’s normal baby behavior.”

Blake gagged three more times and began to turn red, then purple, Kalin Diroma said. 

“I got her out of the high chair quickly, flipped her over, and hit her a few times on her back, but it didn’t work. That’s when I ran out and called for Ryan,” she said.

Ryan Diroma was in the backyard playing basketball. Their security cameras captured when Kalin ran to the back door and yelled, “Ryan, she’s choking.”

Ryan drops the basketball, rushes to his wife, and grabs his infant daughter. He flips her over and pats her back three times.

Blake spits out the carrots, cries, and begins to breathe again.

“Once I heard her cry and saw the carrot, I was like, ‘thank God, we just avoided like a huge disaster,” the father said. “Her face was all blue. My heart was rising.”

Ryan said it wasn’t just his father instincts that kicked in, but also skills he learned as a teen lifeguard.

Kristin Bolick, an EMT and Red Cross volunteer, said those skills are essential for every parent to know.

“Get trained; I can’t stress that enough,” Bolick said.

If a similar emergency arises, here’s what to do:

Hold the baby face-down along your thigh. Hit them firmly on their back between the shoulder blades five times.

Then, turn the baby around to face upwards and place them on your thigh. Place two fingers in the middle of their chest just below the nipples and push down five times.

If the blockage doesn’t dislodge, call 911.

If the child goes unconscious: Lay the child flat and do 30 compressions by placing your hands around their chest.

Look into their mouth; if you see something, use your pinky to remove it. If you don’t see something, continue compressing until the object comes out.

“There’s nothing worse than not knowing what to do,” Bolick said. “So, get trained and the practice that they do will kick in.”

Twenty years after Ryan Diroma was trained, his training kicked in to save his child.

“It was really terrifying,” he said. “This is our first baby and we want others to know what to do so a tragedy doesn’t happen.”

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