Training set stage for Georgia officer to save infant’s life
By Dan Campana
When he received the dispatch about a choking infant, Marietta Police Officer Nick St. Onge immediately knew he’d be the first one to arrive and help the child.
“While driving there, I began reviewing in my mind what I would do when I got on scene. I remembered the CPR training that I had received a few months before and began telling myself what I would do,” St. Onge, a five-year department veteran, recalled. “When I got there, everything happened exactly the way I imagined it. The training paid off and worked well because I trusted it.”
Video from his squad car camera shows St. Onge calmly take the small girl named Zeona from a family member. He crouches or kneels out of the camera’s view as he begins to render aid, including chest compressions and patting the girl on her back. St. Onge remains focused as the seconds turn into minutes. Just as two medics arrive, St. Onge’s facial expression changes and, although there’s no audio from outside the squad, it’s clear Zeona was showing signs of improvement.
“I am a father and can’t imagine what it would be like to have to give my child to someone else to provide emergency care. It gives me a new appreciation for the training we as police officers receive,” St. Onge explained. “We prepare for moments when people’s worlds turn into chaos. We train so that when they need help, they can call on us and trust that we will be able to help them.”
In some ways, St. Onge feels a moment like this is why he long-desired to serve others. He enlisted in the Marine Corps by walking into a recruiting office and telling the recruiter to sign him up. St. Onge spent nine years as military police officer in the Marines, which included two tours in Iraq and five years with the Presidential Helicopter Squadron.
“After seeing the many aspects of life as an MP, I knew I wanted to do the job in the civilian world,” he explained. “I had some good people point me in the right direction and, after realizing I wanted to move to the Atlanta area, I found the Marietta Police Department.”
St. Onge works in evening during the department’s highest call volume shift. He enjoys traffic enforcement, but is ready for whatever might pop up – such as being a hero to a little girl and her family.
“I’ve always been taught to trust your training. Trusting that it would work wasn’t a surprise, per se. But it certainly was a validation that what I did worked,” he said. “Zeona is doing great now. I hear that she had a reflux issue that was the cause of her choking. I had the opportunity to go and see her the other day and was amazed by her grandmother and mother. They are remarkable people who have an amazing amount of love for baby Zeona.
“I tell people all the time that I was in the right place at the right time and trained to serve my community. It’s always been about serving. My hope is that more people will see stories like this and we can continue to hold the public’s trust,” St. Onge said.
Read the entire 50 Badges series here.