I knew it would take me a while to write this one, and I did not want to rush my thoughts just to be the first one to get the story out. I also had to wait for pics and a write up from Roceli Munoz and professional pictures from Karen Brodie as well. Not to mention every time I sat down to write about our afternoon at Victoria House, I got so excited that my mind went racing in 100 different directions. I became flooded with the movie that keeps running in my head about everyone joining together and making a big difference for the health and safety of our island from top to bottom for residents, visitors, and animals.
After hearing Marlon’s story, the following write up is a compilation of Roceli Munoz and myself along with San Pedro Belize Red Cross Volunteers Steve Falcone, Shirlee Arnould, and Mike Memeo doing first aid fact checking and giving their input based on the 2 videos.
3 weeks or so after Marlon took his first aid training, he found himself in an emergency situation where he was called upon to act fast and use his new skills to save the life of 10 year old Mirna Graciela Paguada.
While preparing something to eat he heard commotion coming from his neighborhood. Marlon sprang into action to see what was going on and if he could help. He took his flashlight (since they were in the San Mateo subdivision, which has limited electricity) and flashed around the area. After illuminating his neighbors across the river, he noticed some kids and a mother calling for help. He went in the crocodile waters to aid the wailing family. When he reached them he found out that Mirna had swallowed a marble, which had gotten stuck in her throat. Her family was in a panic not knowing what to do.
Marlon could tell by her color she was not well and after doing a few fast back blows to try and dislodge the marble, he could see the girl was turning blue and going unresponsive. Marlon laid her on the ground and started doing chest compressions. He remembered that you switch from back blows an abdominal thrusts to CPR when a choking person turns blue, because their heart has stopped pumping oxygenated blood. At the same time Marlon was administering CPR on Mirna, he called for her brother Dixon to help by the dory (small flat bottomed fishing boat), so they could get to the Holy Cross Anglican School.
On the boat, Marlon kept doing compressions and as they got closer to the other side of the river, the girl started regaining her color and becoming a bit responsive. Marlon put Mirna over his his shoulder and carried her across the bridge, found a taxi and got her to Dr. Dan’s office. When they arrived Dr. Dan was washing up and needed a few minutes. Marlon could tell the marble had moved and let Mirna know she know going to be fine. Dr. Dan came back quickly and examined her and found her to be in good condition, charged them $20 BZD for the visit, and sent them on their way.
From that night on (December 31, 2013) Marlon will always be a hero for that family and those of us who know him – we have much respect. What could have been a very heart-breaking start of 2014 for the Paguada family of five, turned out to have a very happy ending because of Marlon Gonzalez. It is remarkable to see Mirna out riding her bicycle, knowing she is still alive and has her whole life ahead of her. The events that led up to and the unfolding of Marlon’s heroic actions are proof that together we can make a difference in the lives of our community, and we do truly make a great team.
Victoria House Resort is to be commended for having an extremely high number of their staff in first aid training. They are regulars at San Pedro Belize Red Cross classes and they are big fans of Bandage International, who does an annual additional training onsite for their staff.
Props to Lara at Romantic Travel Belize for being in the right place at the right time to hear Marlon’s miraculous story and letting the San Pedro Red Cross know. You can read her account of the event on on True Story of Heroism in San Mateo that reads like an Indiana Jones movie.
Special thanks to Karen Brodie Photography for doing a wonderful photo shoot for the Paguada family. Evlyn and Wilson, the two youngest children both loved the camera, as you will see from Karen’s Pictures below.
Although this story is about a life being saved, it is so much more than that. It is a story of true human spirit. A story of a small community coming together to make Ambergris Caye island safe and turning what could have been a tragic start to the New Year into a reason to celebrate. When I opened Karen’s email yesterday at Carlo and Ernie’s Runway Bar and Grill, I fell in love with the first picture and this whole story on a deeper level. As I added the close ups I really stopped to look at Mirna and think about how amazing it is that she is still alive.
Then of course Marlon Gonzalez, an honest, friendly, and hard working guy. Little did he know that the 2 day First Aid Training with Bandage International, his employers at Victoria House Resort sent him onward to make him a hero.
I was sorry that their mom and Dixon could not be there to share the moment with us. I know Jorge told his wife and son all about the great afternoon they shared and much fun everyone had. I will make sure that Linda or Lydia at Holy Cross school shows them this post. These next two pictures of Wilson and Evlyn can’t help but make you smile and feel happy.
These next pictures are by Roceli Munoz along with 2 videos I shot of Marlon telling his story. The first one with Steve, Mike and Marlon has better sound as it is shielded from the wind. I thought the second one was nice as it is outside and included the family.
The amazing story of how Marlon Gonzalez saved Mirna Graciela Paguada’s life
Take two outside version Marlon’s story of saving Mirna Graciela Paguada’s life.
For everyone there that afternoon and each in our own private way, a stronger bond has been formed from Victoria House to San Mateo.
Not wanting to end a special occasion so fast, I decided after the interview we should head over to Admiral Nelson Bar to enjoy a toast. Lara suggested the girls try Shirley Temples, while everyone else went with soda’s. I opted for fresh lime juice. Thank you Janet and Victoria House for your contribution to our celebration.
Before long Wilson’s clowning around had Karen directing us to move the photo shoot outside so he could enjoy a wider area to play for the camera. She is great with kids and knows how to get them having the time of their life. Evlyn was a close second for energy, Jorge and Mirna enjoyed watching the show.