Coughing and turning blue, the baby boy showed signs of distress.
Without hesitation, waitress Natalie Bueno jumped into action, leaned the infant forward and placed his chest in one hand. With the other hand, she thumped the child’s back until he spit out the culprits: a piece of tape and a carrot.
Bueno, a senior patient care student, saved the life of the baby on Jan. 5 in the China King Restaurant on Texas 46.
“The parents were freaking out, and the whole family was too,” Natalie said. “They called 911, but I stepped in and was like, ‘I know what to do.’”
Health science teacher Kevin Palmer, who taught Natalie the skills she used to save the infant’s life, admires the work of his student.
“I’m really proud of her,” Palmer said. “She was able to do it without hesitation. She didn’t have to think back to her training. We’ve done it enough that it’s like a natural reflex.”
In Palmer’s Patient Care Technician class, Natalie learns skills to prepare for certification exams and could work in a hospital after graduation. A PCT, similar to a Certified Nurse Assistant, does not have to work underneath the supervision of a Registered Nurse. PCTs can carry out tasks independently when delegated.
“That’s what we train them for,” Palmer said. “Everything is to get them ready for the next step and to do their job to the best of their ability.”
Natalie spent her childhood playing doctor and dreaming about helping others through the medical field, Natalie’s mom Matilda recalled.
“If anything, this just motivates her more,” Matilda said. “She has always wanted to be a Cardiothoracic Surgeon.”
Despite her heroism, Natalie did not quickly share her success with others.
“Natalie is very humble,” Matilda said. “She doesn’t really like to take credit for anything. She told her teacher, the restaurant owner and me.”
Natalie’s actions not only helped to save the life of a choking child, but confirmed her calling to a profession in medicine.
“More than anything, I was excited,” Natalie said. “I want to be a doctor, so things like this don’t really scare me – they just make me excited that I can help.”