Fisherman Rescues Baby Floating in River

By Christian Farr
|  Wednesday, May 11, 2011  |  Updated 8:18 PM CDT
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May 11, 2011: An off-duty firefighter/paramedic puts training to use while spending leisurely morning fishing with a friend.

May 11, 2011: An off-duty firefighter/paramedic puts training to use while spending leisurely morning fishing with a friend.

Addison firefighter/paramedic Jay Arnier credits the infant CPR training he received just last week with helping him revive a baby girl found floating in the Fox River on Tuesday afternoon.

Arnier had spent the morning fishing with a friend in the river in Crystal Lake. At about 1 p.m., he said he saw a woman run out of her house and run into the water.

"She was frantic; screaming and running right toward the river... and she just ran right into the river," Arnier recalled Wednesday.

He said he saw something floating in the water. When the woman reached it and picked it up, he said he could immediately tell it was a small child. Arnier took the boat ashore and found the woman with the child in one hand and a cell phone in the other. 

"I held the baby in an inverted position and did some small chest compressions with my two fingers and water came out of her mouth," said Arnier. "She was pretty much lifeless; just laying there limp."

The child, a girl, was cold and blue. Arnier recalled the thermometer on his boat indicating the water was 60 degrees. The girl wasn't breathing, so Arnier breathed for her.  She initially didn't respond.

Then there was a faint little cough.

"I heard the cough a little stronger, and she actually inhaled on her own. That was a good sign," said Arnier.

Her breathing got stronger and then she began moving her arms. She reached up and grabbed her own ear.

Sheriff's deputies later arrived and the girl was transported to Northern Illinois Medical Center in McHenry. Officials expect the girl to be OK.

Authorities said the mother was with her three children in the house.  She briefly went upstairs and when she returned discovered the siblings had gone outside. She found two of them near the water and noticed the third in the water.

The Department of Children and Family Services has been notified.

Arnier said he's never responded to an emergency of this type while off duty, and when he's on duty, he's used to having his life-saving equipment.

"You feel kind of naked out there doing your thing," he said.

Still, he said he doesn't consider himself a hero.

"The accolades that come with it afterward are really overwhelming.  It's what I do, and I was glad I was there to do it."


Joel "Jay" Arnier has been a firefighter/paramedic since 1991.

American Red Cross: Water Safety Tips

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