Watertown resident Amber L. Long said she has the American Red Cross to thank for providing her the necessary first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation training 20 years ago that helped her save her sons life in 2013.
Because of the effect of that one-day training workshop, which she enrolled in as a requirement for the nursing degrees she was studying for then, she is in the process of moving forward to become a certified instructor of that very class.
You have to have an inner want to do it to help, not for personal gain, she said Wednesday after the American Red Cross of Northern New Yorks Real Heroes awards breakfast at Samaritan Summit Village where she was honored.
The Watertown nonprofit also presented 12 other local residents with awards for their heroic actions.
During her award presentation Wednesday, some members of the crowd of more than 200 people could be seen wiping tears as she recounted the day she saved her sons life. Her son, Kadin M. Williams, was choking one afternoon in June, two months after she was re-certified. She attempted several times to pat his back, and she encouraged him to cough. Nothing came up, and then Mrs. Long saw some blood. He hadnt responded much during the ordeal, she said, but she continued with what she was trained to do with the help of neighbor Christine Gardner until part of a chicken nugget came up.
That was a very scary day, Mrs. Long said. I was pretty much making a bargain with the devil: take me, not him. To perform that on my son was an experience Ill never forget. I encourage anyone and everyone, when you have the opportunity, get CPR and first aid training.
Throughout the past 20 years, Mrs. Long said she had used skills she learned in that training two other times. One was in 1995, about one year after she received her training, when a pregnant woman was run off the road by a drunk driver and had gone into early labor. She used her first aid techniques to examine the woman before emergency medical personnel arrived on scene. The other time those skills were put to good use, she said, was in December 2008 when she was traveling home and stopped along the road when she saw a truck with its flashers on. A woman told her that her son was not breathing after he had a seizure. Mrs. Long performed CPR on the boy, which helped save his life.
After she was honored Wednesday, she urged the audience to donate to the American Red Cross, an organization she said she counts her lucky stars for.
Jane G. Gendron, American Red Cross of Northern New York chapter executive, said the agency could always use additional funds to offer training workshops to certify more people in CPR and first aid. Certifications are good for two years.
Mrs. Gendron said shes looking for more people to share their success stories.
The only reason we knew Ambers story is she came and told us, she said.
For more information, including a list of upcoming training workshops, search Northern New York on the organizations website, www.redcross.org.