Craig When Moffat County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jarrod Poley rounded the corner into the Moffat County Assessor’s Office, his worst fears were confirmed.
The court security guard had been called away from his post on the third floor of the Moffat County Courthouse because a baby was choking on a piece of candy.
When he arrived on the scene, the boy already was a bluish purple, and the mother was in hysterics.
“It’s kind of just like they say it is,” Poley said. “There’s no brain thought. You just start acting on impulse. I look at this kid, and he’s blue in the face. I thought, ‘He’s gone.’ I thought he was dying.”
But Poley’s CPR and first responder training kicked in, and he turned the child on his stomach and patted him in the middle of the back.
He then stuck his finger down the baby’s throat, enacting the gag reflex and forcing the infant to swallow the candy.
The boy coughed and sputtered, then began to scream at the top of his lungs.
That’s when Poley knew he had just saved the boy’s life.
Poley, who has been with the Sheriff’s Office off and on since March 2007, said the incident was just a part of his duties as a courthouse security guard.
“It’s just part of the job,” he said. “There’s not anyone else here, and if I hadn’t been here, I don’t think he would have made it.”
Poley said he was a first responder with the National Park Service in his home state of Arkansas.
When he moved to Craig two years ago, he received CPR training and annual refresher courses.
Lieutenant Dean Herndon, Poley’s commanding officer, said first aid training is similar to carrying a gun: you want to have the training but hope you never have to use it.
“I think he did a great job,” Herndon said. “It brings a better light to court security and how there are other things involved. It’s not always just security.”
The Sheriff’s Office has provided a security guard at the courthouse for a little more than a year, Herndon said.
In that time, there have been 44 arrests and two medical incidents.
Herndon said he was proud of the way Poley handled the most recent situation.
“I think in law enforcement, most of us just believe it is our responsibility,” he said. “That panic, it’s just not there, and it’s not supposed to be there.”
Poley said the panic didn’t set in until after the baby had swallowed the candy and was taken to The Memorial Hospital, where he stayed for two hours.
“I realized what had just happened and how it very easily could have gone down the wrong road,” he said.
On Wednesday morning, the women who work in the Court Clerk’s Office near Poley’s post presented him with an enormous homemade cupcake and a card thanking him for his service.
They all agreed he was a hero for saving a life, even though Poley dismissed his actions as simply being part of his normal duties.
But to the court clerks, the poem on the front of the card said it all.
“It’s a comfort to know there are heroes among us, regular people just like you who are willing to do what it takes to make the world a better place,” it read.