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CHP dispatcher meets 2 year-old he helped save from choking
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CHP dispatcher Anthony Martin, 34, meets with 2-year-old John Michael McMillan who he saved from choking on bread in the back of his aunt’s car on February 14 at Pestana Avenue and Highway 120. Martin was honored for his quick actions Friday morning at the CHP headquarters in Stockton. - photo by GLENN KAHL
Manteca’s Anthony Martin – a CHP dispatcher in Stockton – was credited for his life-saving actions Friday morning that saved the life of a two-year-old toddler two months ago.

Martin, 34, and little John Michael McMillan were equally the center of attention at an 11 a.m. recognition ceremony held in the squad room of the Stockton CHP headquarters.  Martin was greeted with genuinely sincere hugs from the child’s family members soon after he entered the room where he was to receive two engraved plaques.

The toddler let Martin pick him up and hold him in his arms and the two seemed to become immediate buddies as the youngster giggled at him.

The 2-year-old had been eating bread in a car seat in the back seat of his aunt’s four-door sedan and began choking reportedly with his airway restricted – he was not breathing.  A child sitting next to him had given him the bread as the aunt was driving southward toward Highway 120.

Martin said he was on his way to work about 7 p.m. driving south on Pestana Avenue when he found the woman’s car parked in the center of the street at the stop sign leading onto Highway 120. He said she was outside the car – the doors standing open – and she was uncontrollably screaming and waving her arms.

He could see something was very wrong as he pulled his car alongside the woman’s vehicle just as she was pulling the boy out of the back seat where two other children were also sitting in car seats.

Martin said as he ran over to the car and the aunt immediately handed the boy to him asking for him to do something.   He told her to call 911 on her cellular phone.  The woman said she had already swiped her finger through the boy’s mouth and was unable to dislodge the bread that was wadded up in the back of his throat.

The aunt’s call went to the CHP dispatch center in Stockton where it was received by dispatcher Pam Siewert – she was unable to determine their location because of the caller’s distraught demeanor.

Martin said he gave the child a couple of serious pats on the back and the bread wad came out.  He said it is not best to use the Heimlich maneuver with a child as it can be dangerous.  Even with adults it is sometime better to start with the back, he added.

He took the cell phone from the driver and talked with the dispatcher and clarified their location for the ambulance and fire crews, asking the driver to move her car out of the roadway.  Seeing he had done all he could, Martin said he left for his job at the Stockton CHP office before the emergency personnel arrived.

The dispatcher’s 10-year-old daughter Morgan was with him Friday – obviously proud of her dad – grinning from ear to ear.  He said his daughter has taken three CPR classes – she’s CPR certified – and she knows all about the emergency procedure.  

Asked if she is planning to go into the medical or the emergency field, Martin responded that she actually wants to become a teacher – or a drummer, he chuckled.

In the short program Martin was presented with a plaque from Angela Azevedo of the Northern California Chapter of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials naming him the “Tele-communicator of the Year.”

Stockton CHP Commander Captain Janet Dial presented her dispatcher with the “Commander’s Commendation” plaque for his heroic efforts.  CHP Chief Debbie Vertar, from the Sacramento office, was present at the ceremony to formally congratulate Martin.  Chief Vertar formerly served as chief of the Tracy office of the CHP.

Along with his daughter was a very proud grandmother, Sally Martin, of Hayward.  She noted that her grandson was one of nine children in his family.  While Martin now lives in Manteca, he grew up in Tracy and attended Tracy schools.

The CHP family made sure they had a tempting cake at the ready for the end of the ceremony.