MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --
It happened in the blink of an eye.
Suddenly, his 15-month-old daughter was choking.
He says he panicked. He pulled her out of her high chair and tried desperately to clear whatever was blocking her breathing.
Seconds ticked by. She was turning dark red, almost purple.
Then, he recalled his CPR training. He laid her belly-down on his knee, her head slightly down, feet up. He gave her three, maybe five solid strikes to her back.
The food dislodged. She was breathing normally again and gratefully clung to her daddy for the next five minutes.
This is Staff Sgt. Zachary Williams’ story. The 167th Security Forces emergency control center operator was in a restaurant April 5, when this happened.
Williams took the Basic Lifesaver Course at the 167th Airlift Wing last September where he learned the proper technique to save a choking infant.
Staff Sgt. Travis Sites, an aerospace medical services technician for the 167th Medical Group, was his instructor.
Sites, along with two other instructors at the Wing, has administered the course to at least 800 Airmen since 2016.
Williams sent an email to Sites the morning following the incident to express his gratitude for the training he received.
He closed the message with, “I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate what you’re doing up there and I cannot thank you enough, it saved my little girls life yesterday!”
Sites said he was grateful that Williams was able to save his daughter.
“It reassured me that the CPR training on base is making a difference in members and their family’s lives,” Sites said.
Sites admitted that teaching the course sometimes feels repetitive but Williams’ story reminds him of the importance of the training.
Unit members are scheduled every two years for CPR recertification but may to take the class sooner if they feel the need or become new parents.
“Williams experience just proves that having the education and willingness to react can change someone’s life,” Sites said.
According to the American Heart Association, an individual’s chance of survival decreases 7 to 10 percent for every minute treatment is delayed.