This story needs to be told, even though it may not get much attention.
As I’ve written before, the public always clamors for good news. Mainstream media outlets, I’m constantly told, are only interested in controversy and bad news. Perhaps in response to that, some media outlets are reporting a lot of positive stories these days. I, for one, enjoy doing so. But when those stories run, I always see a decrease in “shares,” clicks, and comments. I did a story on Friday about some 5th graders who take great pride in raising the flag at school, and I know many people said, “Why is this news? Don’t you have any wrecks to show us?”
For instance, If a cop sets up radar, makes an arrest, and gets a crazed driver off the road before someone is killed, we yell, “Speed trap! Money grab! Big brother! I saw a cop speeding last week! Why didn’t someone arrest him!” (We just had 7 traffic fatalities in a 48-hour period in our area. And people get upset about speed enforcement.)
But if a cop does something good, we say, “Uh…isn’t that his job?”
(Let me pause here to say I’m not a big fan of the word “cop.” I try not to use it on the news. I prefer “police officer.” But for the purposes of this blog, it will pop up now and then, no disrespect intended. It’s just a lot quicker to type.)
Now, let me tell you what happened last week at MoMo Hibachi Japanese Grill in Soddy-Daisy. John and Natalie Fiddler, both 31, are new parents. Their son Ethan is almost 15 months old. Here’s a picture of this cute family:
It’s great when your child gets to the age where you can go out to eat. The first year or so, it isn’t easy. So John and Natalie enjoyed a great meal at MoMo, tipped the waitress and started gathering up their stuff. Natalie looked away just for a moment, to get her bags (when traveling with a baby, you bring lots of bags), when she heard little Ethan cough. He had been sick a few days before, so a cough wasn’t unusual. She picked him up, and they headed for the door. Suddenly Ethan starting crying out, but not breathing in. Natalie knew something was wrong, and a look of panic swept over her face. Her little boy couldn’t breathe.
(Spoiler alert: If you don’t like to read positive things about cops, don’t go any further.)
Master Patrolman Eddie Mansell of the Chattanooga Police Department was off duty that evening. He was also having dinner at MoMo, accompanied by his wife Beth. He is a 22 year veteran of the CPD, and along with his other training, has taken 11 CPR classes during his career. Those lessons would come in handy tonight.
“He recognized the signs of choking quickly,” John Fiddler said of Officer Mansell. “We didn’t know who he was, he wasn’t uniformed, he was having dinner with his wife. He was this commanding presence, he just took over.”
Here’s Officer Mansell’s side of the story: “I saw this lady patting her child on the back, and she had this terrified look on her face. I got up, my wife started praying, and I guess my training kicked in, just muscle memory from all those classes.”
Ethan had stopped breathing. That initial burst of crying had stopped. Now there was silence, which is much more alarming.
Officer Mansell said, “By now his eyes had rolled back. I leaned him down, and gave him three quick strikes to the back.” Ethan’s dad John described them as “harder pats than we’d been giving him.” An ice cube was expelled, and Ethan was able to breathe. “At first he coughed a little bit,” Mansell said. “Then he gave me this look, like, why are you hitting me?” he said with a laugh.
John Fiddler says he is CPR certified, but his wife is not. “This all happened so fast,” he said. “I might have been able to do the right thing, but Officer Mansell jumped in first, much to our relief.”
Lessons were learned. “I want parents to know how fast this can happen,” John said. “We looked away from Ethan just long enough for him to grab an ice cube from a glass. It was within his reach, so he went for it, like kids do. He’s at that Mr. Grabby stage, he wants to try everything. We’ll be taking the CPR classes, and watching the videos.”
John and Natalie are thankful this off-duty police officer was paying attention. “He could have pretended not to notice, or to look the other way, like some people do,” John said. “But he jumped right up, and saved a life. I think he deserves some commendation.”
Officer Mansell told me this story shouldn’t be about a cop hero. “Regular folks do this a lot, people who have had CPR training. I was just in the right place at the right time.” But he later added, “After all these years, all the classes, this is the first time I’ve needed to use those skills. This is the highlight of my career.”
If you’ve gotten this far in the story, I bet you’re like me. I know that when a “bad cop” makes the news, someone who got caught speeding last week will celebrate. But when I’m in trouble, or a loved one’s life is in danger, thank God that Eddie Mansell and his colleagues will answer the call.
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