Father’s CPR saves son after infant stops breathing

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, February 7, 2018

GARYVILLE — What began as a typical workday quickly turned into one of the most frightening experiences of Aaron St. Pierre’s life.

St. Pierre, 24, had just returned to his home in Garyville Jan. 16 after stopping to pick up prescription medicine for his 7-month-old son, Shane.

The typically happy baby was battling a high fever and severe congestion after testing positive for the flu, replacing his usual smiles with cries and strained breathing.

His mother, Brittany St. Pierre, rocked him in her lap and listened as he snored in heavy breaths through his nose.

Then the sound stopped.

The St. Pierre family includes baby boy Shane, Aaron, oldest daughter Brynn and Brittany.

Brittany looked down and saw Shane still and unmoving. She screamed, “He’s not breathing! He’s not breathing!” as St. Pierre ran inside from the carport.

When St. Pierre picked Shane up, the infant’s arms fell limp to his sides, unresponsive.

“There were so many thoughts running through my mind at that moment,” St. Pierre said.

“It was surreal. I was thinking, I can’t believe this is happening. Then I laid him on the floor and began CPR compressions and mouth to mouth. I didn’t really think about it. I just did it.”

It was St. Pierre’s first time administering CPR since being certified through work, a requirement for joining the emergency response team at Valero.

Shane St. Pierre is all smiles after his dad’s life-saving efforts.

“At first, it was as if it wasn’t working,” St. Pierre said.

As he administered mouth-to-mouth and compressions, he shielded Shane’s body from his wife and young daughter, Brynn, who had charged into the room hysterical with concern for her baby brother.

As he saw lights flash in the front yard, signaling the arrival of emergency responders, St. Pierre tried again to administer mouth-to-mouth.

“That time, I felt whatever was stuck in his airway pop through his throat,” St. Pierre said. “He gasped for air, choked a little bit and then just started screaming and crying.”

Hearing his son take that first breath after being unresponsive for close to two minutes was a huge relief, St. Pierre said, but it also felt distant and surreal, like an out-of-body experience.

Medical professionals could only give an educated guess of what caused Shane to stop breathing, though St. Pierre suspects a build up of mucus.

After an overnight stay and neurological testing at Children’s Hospital, Shane returned home and has since made a full recovery.

St. Pierre is thankful for the happy ending.

“I’m glad we had the outcome we had, but had I not known what to do in that situation, we may have lost our son,” St. Pierre said.

He recognizes the value of CPR training, describing it as a skill too important to not know.

“It’s something that’s so easy to do and so easy to learn for something that’s so valuable,” St. Pierre said. “It’s one of those things you’d rather know how to do and have it and not need it than to need it and not know how to do it.”

CPR classes are offered at most hospitals, according to St. James Parish Hospital Education Director and community CPR instructor Carolyn Bossier.

She said individuals interested in learning CPR, first aid and basic life support can contact their local hospital.

River Parishes residents can call 225-258-5952 or visit sjph.org to sign up for classes at St. James Parish Hospital.

Bossier teaches heart saver CPR and first aid for adults, children and infants the third Tuesday of every month. Classes last between three and five hours, she said, and the cost is $40 to learn lifesaver CPR and $50 for CPR and first aid classes.

The goal of all classes is to teach individuals how to assess and respond to a situation until emergency personnel arrive.

“You never know when you’re going to be faced with a situation in which you can help save a person’s life,” Bossier said.