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.