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His Quick Thinking Saves a Child

Posted: August 14, 2019

It sounds like something you might read about in a superhero comic book. A person in distress yells desperately for help and suddenly, from out of nowhere, a man in a suit jumps in to save the day.

In this case, however, it was not fiction. The distressed person yelling for help was Fairfield mom Esperanza Rodriguez whose 18-month-old daughter, Lexie, was having a seizure in the parking lot at NorthBay Medical Center. And the hero in a suit was NorthBay Patient Experience Ambassador Art Smith.

“I had left some papers in my car so I went out to get them and as I was walking back to the Welcome Pavilion, I heard a woman screaming ‘Help! Help, my baby’s not breathing!” said Art. “I turned and saw her holding the baby and our eyes locked and I just dropped everything and ran over.”

“I was yelling and yelling for help and it seemed like nobody was coming,” says Esperanza. “And then this man was there and he said, ‘Give the baby to me,’ and he grabbed her and ran to the emergency room.”

Art was focused on getting the baby safely into the hands of medical staff, he said.

“I was going to run but I remembered that one of my shoelaces was untied. I had noticed it earlier and was going to tie it when I got back from my car,” he said. “So once I had the baby, I decided to walk as fast as I could, not to run, because I didn’t want to trip and drop the baby!”

Inside the emergency room, staff worked to help the baby, who was having the seizure due to a high temperature.
“I was just praying ‘Lord, don’t let that baby die,’” Art recalled. “But the medical team was so professional and then I saw the baby’s foot move.”

Flooded with relief, he realized that Esperanza, who also had her 11-year-old daughter, Martha, with her was still in the waiting area. “I headed over there and they were crying and I told the mom, she’s going to be OK.”

Esperanza and Martha were taken back to be with baby Lexie then, so Art simply headed back to work. He was shaken, though.

“I just sat down and started boo-hoo crying,” he admitted. “I’m a dad and I just thought about my own kids when they were babies. It was very emotional.”

He checked back after work and the family was already checked out and headed home. “I didn’t even know their names,” said Art.

Esperanza, who has four daughters, said the entire experience was something new. “I never had a child go through that,” she said. “She had been having a fever and was dehydrated and only wanted water. But something wasn’t right and so I decided to take her to the E.R.”

During the drive, her daughter Marta sat in the back next to Lexie’s car seat. It was Martha who saw the baby go into the seizure as Esperanza was parking.

“She screamed ‘Mom, she’s having a seizure’ and I looked back and the baby’s eyes were rolled back in her head,” Esperanza said. “I didn’t even turn the car off. I jumped out and started to tear her out of the car seat. It was Martha who got in and turned the key off and grabbed my purse. She was brave.”

Esperanza gives Art the credit for helping the baby and her.

“He came out to the waiting area and was telling us the baby was going to be OK and hugging me,” she said. “I was thanking him and he said ‘Don’t thank me, thank the Lord.’” He was the one who calmed me down.”

Art has nothing but praise for Esperanza and the NorthBay Emergency team.

“For her to have the faith to hand the baby to me and entrust NorthBay, says a lot about her and NorthBay,” he said. “She did the right thing and it all turned out good.”