Beach Patrol Officer Honored For Saving Infant

Beach Patrol Officer Honored For Saving Infant
Beach Patrol

OCEAN CITY — An Ocean City Beach Patrol Sergeant who saved an infant from choking in Virginia Beach last summer during a lifeguard competition has been recognized with a national honor for his heroic efforts.

Last August, OCBP Sgt. Jamie Falcon was officiating the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) National Lifeguard Championships in Virginia Beach when he found himself in the right place at the right time. Falcon had just finished judging the USLA Beach Flags competition and was standing with his family when they noticed a commotion on the beach. Falcon’s instincts kicked in and he quickly found himself resuscitating a 14-month-old child who was choking on a potato chip.

“My wife realized there was something going on,” Falcon told The Dispatch following the incident last August. “There was a crowd of people converging on the middle of the beach, so I ran over. There was someone holding the baby and he was doing back blows, but they were not sufficient. I said I would take him and he handed the child to me.”

When Falcon realized the child was suffering from respiratory arrest, he began CPR on the toddler.

“Initially, I didn’t think it would be very hard to clear a potato chip, but I was surprised because I did three cycles of chest compressions and back blows and I checked breathing each time, but he wasn’t breathing until the third cycle,” he said. “It was very hard and very scary. The mother was there and she was hysterical. Each time I rolled him over he became less alert and less conscious in his face. It was a really rough one.”

Once the child began to breathe again, Falcon laid him down and heard the voice of his colleague, OCBP Sgt. Rick Cawthern, who was also on hand judging the USLA competition. Amid hundreds of lifeguards from all over the country, the two OCBP officers were the first on the scene.

“We were the only two officers there,” said Falcon. “We ran over from separate directions and we ended up being the first two to get there. It felt like a very long time for the paramedics to arrive where in Ocean City they are there. When they arrived, three of us carried him off and put him in an ambulance. He became conscious in the ambulance before it went away.”

Six months after the incident, Falcon was recognized this week for his heroic effort to save the child. Falcon received the National Meritorious Act Award from the USLA, although he was humble about the honor.

“What I did was something lifeguards around the country do all the time,” he said this week. “I’m thrilled to have helped, but the child would have been rescued if any of my colleagues had happened to be there.”

A former U.S. Navy Rescue Swimmer, Falcon has been employed by the OCBP since 1997 and brings decades of lifesaving training to the department. He currently leads the OCBP’s training academy and is one of 10 Beach Patrol rescue swimmers throughout Maryland who is trained and available to the Maryland State Police. The gregarious Falcon said this week the incident, and the subsequent honor, would not soon be forgotten.

“I’m glad the child was okay and I deeply appreciate the recognition,” he said. “This is an enormous honor that I will always cherish.”