As an indirect account manager for Verizon Wireless in the Wichita area, Brian Buselt’s job is to travel to agents’ stores. His job description doesn’t include reviving 2-year-old children.
For a while Thursday morning, Buselt, his supervisor and Art Marquez talked business at Marquez’s Cellshack Wireless store at 25th and North Arkansas. One of Marquez’s employees had brought her 2-year-old son with her to work because he was not feeling well enough to go to day care. One minute, the boy was laughing at a TV show. Minutes later his mother and other employees brought him out front. Buselt saw anxiety in the employees’ faces. One of them held the 2-year-old. The boy’s body had turned limp, his lips a purplish blue. He wasn’t breathing.
Someone said to call 911, and Marquez quickly got on the phone. Buselt, a 35-year-old father of two young children, had taken training at Wesley Medical Center about nine months earlier, before the birth of his daughter, for parents who might find themselves having to do life-saving first aid.
His boss asked if anyone knew how to help, and Buselt immediately took the boy, sat on a couch, cradling the child in his left arm. He started trying to put his training to work. After checking to see if the boy was breathing, with his free hand, he quickly swept the boy’s mouth, trying to clear any blockage in the airway (a step that experts say should be done with some care so that an obstacle doesn’t get pushed further into the airway). He then turned the boy over and slapped his back, then repeated each step.
Each time Buselt turned the boy over, Marquez, 42, could see the toddler’s arms still hanging limp, and it scared Marquez, a father of three. To Marquez, Buselt’s face looked desperate.
Buselt kept trying not to think of his own small son, Westley, 3, as he tried to revive the 2-year-old. Otherwise, he feared he would get emotional and lose focus. He could hear the boy’s mother crying, had seen fear in her face. He had to help her. Things were happening around him. But for those few minutes, in his mind, there was nothing in the world but her son.
“Breathe, kid. You gotta breathe. Come on!” In his mind, he thought he was saying it to himself. Later, he learned that he was shouting the words.
Finally, after about the third round of sweep, roll-over and back slaps, the boy spit out something onto the floor and began to breathe shallowly. During one sweep of the boy’s mouth, he bit Buselt’s finger.
Finally, the boy was showing some responsiveness, and Buselt could feel his pounding chest starting to ease, could hear the boy breathing, a beautiful sound.
Firefighters and an EMS crew arrived and took over, and the breathing improved. As the emergency crews gathered around the boy, Marquez noticed Buselt off to the side.
Sweat ran down Buselt’s face. Marquez realized that Buselt was emotionally shaken.
Marquez stepped over to Buselt, shook his hand, put his arm around him and told him, “Brian, you just saved this kid’s life.”
Both men would learn that the boy was OK after being taken to a hospital, where he was being kept for testing.
For both men, the experience was a reminder of the importance of first-aid training.
Later Thursday, Buselt got a call from a top executive with his company, complimenting him on his action.
“I’m just an average guy. I’m a dad,” he told an Eagle reporter.
“Those (first-aid) classes can save lives, and they did today.”