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Grandmother saves her grandson

It’s been more than eight years since Tracy West received training in CPR, but on Friday night, her memory of that training came back to her on a most precious person—her grandson, Bryan “Junior” Cantley.

Amber Cantley, the mother of little Junior, said he bolted from her after she took off his diaper while in the process of changing it. He then scampered toward a hole in the backyard of her Barber Road home that was half full of muddy water left over from recent rains.

West, who lives next door and was in the front yard of her house when Junior fell in, couldn’t get him out of the muddy hole until he was limp, not breathing and turning blue, said West, who emotionally recounted her story.

She immediately started chest compressions and breathing into his mouth. She said she did it three or four times, and Junior never seemed to respond. So she remembered the finger sweep, where she put her finger into his mouth in an attempt to help loosen any debris in his mouth and windpipe. The method worked.

Junior started throwing up and then crying.

It’s about that time that Kendrick volunteer first responder Donna Rhodes arrived, and between her and West, they kept Junior breathing and being somewhat responsive until EMTs arrived.

“I didn’t freak out until the ambulance got there,” West said through tears Friday after the realization of just how close her grandson came to drowning from those muddy waters.

Rhodes said West saved her grandson.

West said she received CPR training while studying to be a nurse, but now works as a school bus driver for the Decatur County schools. Friday night was the first time she used CPR on someone, and she also remembered the different ways CPR must be administered between a child and an adult.

Cantley said she is going to receive some CPR training as soon as she can.

“Anything could have happened,” Cantley said.

As she embraced her mother Friday night, she cried, “I’m glad you were there this time.”

“She saved my baby,” said Cantley, who is expecting her second child with her husband, Bryan Cantley. Junior will turn 2 years old on April 24.

West’s husband, Kenneth West, said the first responders were there in less than two minutes, and they truly helped until the ambulance and sheriff’s deputies arrived.

“When they got there, that’s when I was relieved,” Tracy West said of the Rhodes, who has only been with the Kendrick Volunteer Fire Department for a couple of months.

Rhodes is already a nurse and is an EMT student at Bainbridge College. She said the various volunteer fire departments each offer CPR training. If someone is interested in receiving training in the life-saving technique, to call the Decatur County Fire and Rescue Department at 248-3011 to see which volunteer unit is offering the training.

And as first responder Gator Bryant said shortly after the ambulance had left for the hospital, “At least this one turned out good.”