WILLACY COUNTY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — AirLift Texas 5, a critical care air ambulance from Air Methods, helped save the life of a 2-month-old baby boy in Willacy County.
“When I tried calling him he wouldn’t move, I said ‘Rico’ and he just looked so pale to me when I picked him he just felt so loose. I checked his pulse and he didn’t have one,” said Ruby Torres, mother to twins Rico and Rowen.
Torres said in mid-June she laid both twins down for a nap when one baby, Rowen, began to cry. When she checked on both babies, she faced every mother’s worst nightmare when she found her 2-month-old baby Rico lifeless.
That is when she called 911.
“I gave him CPR and he did a big gulp and they were just telling me to do it and just like my heart just kept telling me not to give up, but in my mind, it was just like ‘I’m done, it’s done’,” said Torres.
Moments later, Lisa Lopez, the lead EMT with Willacy County EMS on the scene that day, responded to the call and immediately began CPR on Rico. Lopez confirmed that Rico went into pediatric cardiac arrest, something she said is any medic’s worst fear.
Lopez said she was able to bring Rico back to life in what she called a moment of relief.
“He went from being completely lifeless and limp to seeing him do an agonal breath,” said Lopez. “I said ‘hold everyone stop’ and we verified and we were able to get a pulse back.”
However, Lopez said Rico’s pulse kept failing, and getting him to the nearest hospital was his only hope. She explained the nearest hospital, Valley Baptist in Harlingen, was a 30-minute ride away.
AirLift Texas 5, based out of Weslaco, began its latest paramedic airlift service on June 1, 2022. Lopez said they called in the helicopter paramedics from Air Methods, who are not exclusive to any hospital or EMS agency, and flew Rico to Harlingen in 13 minutes.
“If it wasn’t for the helicopter to have airlifted him over there right away I don’t know what would’ve happened,” said Torres.
The flight team said this was their first flight to Willacy County.
“We got the full story when we got to the back of the ambulance, we figured out it would be a little complicated,” said Adrian Peña, a flight nurse paramedic with Air Methods.
“You have to take the emotion out of the call, and you have to show up and be able to go to work,” said Jack Fulmer, a flight paramedic with Air Methods.
On Thursday, the flight team was reunited with Rico and his mother for the first time since the incident took place.
“We’re glad to be completely a part of it and forever attached,” said Richard Garza, a helicopter pilot with Air Methods. “We’d love to see him grow up and maybe become a helicopter pilot one day.”
Torres said Rico is doing well although she and her family are still recovering from the scare.