Alexis Muscatello used her Safe Sitter® skills to save the life of her younger brother Joel. She now has a real-life understanding of her father’s job. Todd Muscatello is the EMS Coordinator in the ER at Rutland Regional Medical Center in Rutland, Vermont.
Todd, who sees potential life and death situations every day on the job, is understandingly proud of his daughter’s life-saving actions.
“She’s my hero! Her quick thinking and her instant reaction saved her brother’s life,” he said. “I cry when I think of what could have been. We’re just so grateful that RRMC offers the Safe Sitter® course. It’s because of Safe Sitter® that Joel is still with us. We can’t thank the Instructors enough. I’m almost speechless.”
One June, after her parents had left home for the day, Alexis, 13, was in charge of Joel. It was early in the morning and, because Alexis had been given permission to sleep in a bit, Joel, 10, decided to get out of bed and head downstairs for a snack. His snack of choice, carrots, got stuck in his throat so he grabbed a drink of water to wash them down.
“That’s when I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t even cough,” Joel recounted. “I started to feel a little woozy.”
Joel knew he had to get help fast. He also knew Alexis would know what to do so he ran to her room. After he shook his big sister awake, she could instantly tell by the pale color of his face and the way he was clutching his throat that he was choking.
As Joel began to slump, Alexis turned him around to perform abdominal thrusts. She calmly administered one strong thrust and dislodged the carrot. Joel could breathe again.
Despite being jarred out of sleep by a brother in distress, Alexis said she knew right away what she needed to do because she learned it in Safe Sitter®.
“I knew he was choking and I had to do the Heimlich Maneuver,” she said. “I knew what to do and how to do it. And I wasn’t scared at all, at least not until it was all over.”
Only when she called her mother Shannon at work, did Alexis cry recounting the near-tragic episode. Shannon, who also works at Rutland Regional Medical Center, rushed home to make sure both of her children were alright.
“I was just completely stunned,” said Shannon. “Lexi and Joel were in Joel’s room and she was holding his hand and rubbing his back. I just kept telling her how proud of her I was.”
The hospital videotaped the Muscatello’s inspiring story and it was shown on a local television station.
Alexis took Safe Sitter® over 2 years ago and is now a Teen Volunteer at the hospital. The Volunteer Coordinator gave her special recognition in front of her fellow volunteers – a carrot cake. Joel was very careful eating it!
“If she hadn’t known how to do the Heimlich Maneuver, then I probably wouldn’t be here today,” said Joel. “I am very thankful!”
Alexis clearly demonstrated outstanding performance of Safe Sitter® skills in a babysitting situation. For her actions, she received Safe Sitter’s highest award, Safe Sitter® of the Year.
*Permission to use full names and photo given by her parents.