Wednesday, February 20

Two UCPD officers use experiences as combat medic, father to help baby

Dan Guajardo and Paul Wells used their experiences as a combat medic and father, respectively, to help a baby having a seizure. (Miriam Bribiesca/Photo editor)

Dan Guajardo and Paul Wells used their experiences as a combat medic and father, respectively, to help a baby having a seizure. (Miriam Bribiesca/Photo editor)

Correction: The headline and photograph caption of the original version of this article incorrectly stated the baby was choking.

This post was updated July 24 at 12:15 p.m.

University police officers Dan Guajardo and Paul Wells weren’t expecting a baby when they responded to a burglary alarm late June.

Guajardo and Wells responded to the alarm at the University Village Apartments a few miles south of campus when a frantic woman ran up to them and said her baby couldn’t breathe.

“Her eyes, her voice … We knew something bad was going on,” Guajardo said.

The woman, Zsófia Kigyóssy, said her 8-month-old daughter had had a fever that morning. She said she and her mother took her baby outside by a playground so she could feel better.

Kigyóssy said the next time she saw her, the baby was shaking and unconscious.

“My baby hadn’t had a seizure before,” she said. “I didn’t know if she was going to be okay or if it was just going to go away.”

Kigyóssy said a man she often sees at the playground then offered to help. She said he held the baby on his shoulder and told her he had seen the officers nearby and she should ask them for help.

The officers put the burglary investigation on hold to help the woman and her daughter.

The officers received notification of a burglary alarm at about 6 p.m., but the alarm was cancelled before they could leave their station, Guajardo said. About 15 minutes later, he and Wells were called for another alarm at the same apartment. The woman ran up to them while they were investigating the area.

Guajardo said he thinks they may have missed the mother completely if they would have responded to the first call.

The officers followed the woman with caution because they were suspicious the woman was leading them into a trap, he said.

But the woman led the officers to her baby, who was purple, and told them the baby had a fever and began shaking right before she stopped breathing. Wells said he thought the baby had a febrile seizure because his son had suffered one as a child, and Wells recognized the symptoms.

Kigyóssy said her baby began breathing by the time the officers arrived. She said the officers made sure her airway was cleared and checked her vital symptoms.

Guajardo held the baby to ensure her airway was clear while Wells grabbed the baby’s hand and started rubbing her sternum. A few moments later the baby took one huge breath and began crying.

“It was maybe about 30 seconds in total, but (that moment) seemed like an eternity,” Wells said.

Kigyóssy said she is thankful the officers offered information about the seizure.

“The officers not only took care of my daughter, but of me,” she said. “It makes me feels safe that officers know how to handle these kinds of situations.”

The baby was taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and made a full recovery, Guajardo said.

Wells, who is also UCPD’s training instructor, said officers receive basic emergency and first aid training, but don’t typically handle medical calls. Officers also receive supplemental training every three years, which is influenced by previously handled scenarios.

Wells said his experience with his son’s seizures and Guajardo’s experience as a combat medic in the army were important in helping them save the baby. They said it would have been different if it had been other officers in that situation.

“Experience is the best teacher,” Wells said. “The more experience you can share (with officers) the better.”

Guajardo was the first officer to open professor William Klug’s office door after he had been killed earlier in the month, he said. He said helping the baby and the mother had a longer lasting effect on him than the campus shooting because afterwards, he thought about all the things that could have gone wrong.

“I’m not a doctor,” he said. “The mother was basically telling us ‘fix our kid.’”

Manny Garza, interim chief of police, said in an email statement he is happy Wells and Guajardo were able to adequately respond to the situation and save the baby.

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News senior staff

Roberto Luna Jr. is currently a senior staffer covering Westwood, crime and transportation. He was previously an assistant News editor from 2015-2016 and a News contributor from 2014-2015.

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