In Seconds Her Face Turned Blue

As friends and family members enjoyed an outdoor barbecue on a beautiful spring day in Delano, Minnesota, things took a turn for the worst in a split second.  While eating, Josh and Sarah Kiecker noticed that their one-year-old daughter, Reese, was no longer breathing.  In a sudden panic, her parents began patting her back and looking for the obstruction in her mouth and throat.  As Reese started turning blue, her mother desperately asked if anyone had training or knew what to do.


Luckily, Derek Horeis, a friend of Josh and Sarah, was there and ready to help.

“It took me a split second to figure out what was going on, but I quickly felt relief because I knew the steps to follow based on training from American Red Cross,” says Horeis.

Horeis applied a couple quick pops of pressure below the sternum (with a protruding thumb), which released the obstruction.  As Reese began to cry and breathe in, everyone was relieved to see the blue color leave her face and her lips regain color.

“What I now realize is that the training was a true gift,” says Horeis.  “It allowed me to step into the situation with knowledge and some confidence that I could make a positive difference.”

Because of his extraordinary life-saving action, Horeis is being nominated for an American Red Cross Certificate of Merit. This national recognition is given to every day people who save or sustain a life using skills learned in Red Cross training.  Honorees receive an award signed by the President of the United States and a medal that bears the Red Cross logo and the words, “Lifesaving Award of Merit.”

Horeis’s life-saving actions are example of how Red Cross training can become crucial in emergency situations. Click here to learn more and to find classes near you.

Story by Shannon Lewis/Communications Intern/American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Region. Photo provided courtesy of Derek Horeis.

One Reply to “In Seconds Her Face Turned Blue”

  1. I think people often believe taking this kind of training is so they could help a stranger in need. The truth is, it is probably the life of someone you already know that you will save. Wouldn’t you want to know how to help someone you care about? Congratulations and thank you, Derek. Thanks for sharing the story, Shannon.


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