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Off-Duty Paramedic Saves Baby Who Fell Into Fox River

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Joel “Jay” Arnier (Credit: CBS)

Joel “Jay” Arnier (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 05/11/11 5:36 p.m.

MCHENRY, Ill. (CBS) — It’s been a bittersweet couple of days for a McHenry County mom. Her baby survived a near drowning on the Fox River Tuesday. On Wednesday, she told CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman, DCFS is taking her children for now.

It all began Tuesday afternoon.

“I went upstairs to brush my hair,” said Trisha Schuler, “It was five minutes, and they were out the door.”

Schuler says her 20-month-old son unlatched that door. He and his twin, Kaitlyn wandered to the river’s edge, and the little girl ended up in the water. Schuler knew to check when she didn’t hear the children inside. What she saw outside was horrifying.

Neighbor Lindy Frakes described the scene.

“You could see the look of panic,” said Frakes, “We heard the screaming.”

So did an off-duty firefighter/paramedic from Addison. He was fishing, and heard Schuler’s screams.

“I heard the lady screaming and frantically running from her house towards the river,” he said.

Arnier boated over to help Schuler.

He performed basic CPR on the baby.

“She was cold to the touch,” said Joel “Jay” Arnier, “She was blue in the face. I repeated respiration…until I heard a faint cough.”

He said that cough was music to his ears.

“I’m sure if somebody was watching me they could see the smile on my face,” Arnier told WBBM Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller, “and I was talking to her, telling her, ‘Good girl, good girl. You’re doing fine.'”

Schuler said, “He saved my daughter’s life. At the hospital they’re calling her the miracle baby.”

She says Kaitlyn is behaving like a normal 20-month old. She’s thrilled about that. When we spoke with her,
Schuler also mentioned DCFS was taking her children because of poor locks on the home’s doors. She says she has a court appearance Friday to address that matter.

Arnier said the challenge was worth it.

“It was a rush,” he said. “It was an adrenaline rush, no question about that. Everybody knows that firefighters are kind of adrenaline junkies, so it was a pretty good fix.”

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