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Off-Duty Firefighter Saves Choking Girl's Life

Brad Sweatt, a member of the Redondo Beach Fire Department, believes he was "meant to be there."

Engineer Brad Sweatt, who saved a 3-year-old girl's life on Friday, poses on Saturday with a RBFD ladder truck. Photo credit Nicole Mooradian.
Engineer Brad Sweatt, who saved a 3-year-old girl's life on Friday, poses on Saturday with a RBFD ladder truck. Photo credit Nicole Mooradian.

An off-duty member of the Redondo Beach Fire Department was "in the right place at the right time" on Friday when he saved a 3-year-old girl from choking Friday.

Brad Sweatt, an RBFD engineer, hadn't planned to go to Trader Joe's that day. In fact, he didn't even need anything in particular when he walked over there.

"I guess I was meant to be there," he told Patch in an interview.

While shopping, he heard a mother crying out.

"I heard a lady yell that I child was choking," said Sweatt, a 25-year RBFD veteran. "You hear those words … (you) know that somebody's calling your name."

When he ran over, the mother "had despair in her face and her child was choking."

Sweatt pushed his way in and grabbed the girl—who was choking on a cracker, according to her mother—to perform an alternative to the Heimlich maneuver for young children known as "pediatric airway control." As he did so, the child did not appear to be breathing.

As he performed the maneuver, he heard whimpering, a sign that the child was breathing. 

The entire ordeal lasted fewer than two minutes.

On-duty RBFD paramedics arrived soon after and checked the girl out. She was not taken to the hospital.

"I knew that our guys were on their way in case things didn't work out," Sweatt said.

In a letter of recognition shared with Patch, RBFD Capt. Dave Smith commended Sweatt for his actions.

"Helping people is at the heart of why we all become firefighters," Smith wrote. "There's no better feeling than being a part of saving someone's life. At times we tend to take for granted the actions that we perform while on duty. Performing life saving actions while off-duty takes on a new meaning.

"Brad's actions remind us all of the core reason for choosing the fire service as a career."

"It's rewarding, especially since the child's OK," Sweatt said.

Marcelle McCullough January 13, 2014 at 10:53 AM
I feel very fortunate to live in a city where we have our own fire department. Well done Engineer Sweatt!! If you are a parent, baby sitter, sister, brother you should know CPR. The Redondo Beach Fire Dept. has a Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) beginning on March 6th that offers training from firefighter s on CPR/First Aid, Disaster Preparedness and more. This is an 8 week course (Thurs nights) at the Main Library. The cost to Redondo residents is $40. You can download an application from www.redondo.org. Do it! If you don't learn CPR here, learn it somewhere. It could save your child's life.
Sandy Marchese January 13, 2014 at 02:07 PM
Thank you Brad Sweatt! We are fortunate to live in a community with an excellent Fire Department. Our firefighters provide their skills while on duty and off duty. However if their is an emergency would you know how to help? What if it was your loved one or family member in need. Taking a few hours to learn what to do could make the difference in somone's life. The Redondo Beach Fire Department offers a wonderful program to residents for $40. It is the CERT Program. The 50th CERT Academy is starting March 6th. You can set your DVR to record your favorite Thursday night programs and take the training that could make a difference. Applications are available at www.redondo.org (front page).
Jeff Ginsburg January 15, 2014 at 12:17 PM
Great job Brad! ....and after hearing about the CERT training courses at last night's meeting and reading it here I just downloaded the Registration Form! I'll sign up for one of the next 2 classes offered....it's one of those things....you never know if and/or when it will be needed but it would be nice to have the knowledge to help somebody out like you did :) Here is the link I used to download the Registration Form: http://www.redondo.org/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=2282&TargetID=1
Jack Cates January 16, 2014 at 11:22 PM
Engineer Sweatt, great job sir, well done. Thankfully you were there for that 3 year old child. Now if only City Manager Workman and the rest of the City Council was there for you city employees!

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