Saving life of child results in recognition
URBANA — When Jason Norton was a boy, he mastered life-saving skills in pursuit of a Boy Scout merit badge.
Years later, Urbana police Sgt. Norton used the skills learned back then to save the life of a 3-year-old girl.
On Wednesday, Urbana Police Chief Pat Connolly presented Norton with the department's Life Saving Award for his efforts going above and beyond the call of duty to save another person's life.
Norton, 42, and another Urbana police officer, Michelle Robinson, were called to an apartment in the 1400 block of Silver Street at 11:20 p.m. April 1.
When Norton got there, he found a 3-year-old girl unconscious and not breathing.
"The child was lying in a hallway near a bathroom," he said. "There was very limited space. But I got my face down next to the child and could immediately tell she was not breathing."
Norton, a 16-year veteran of the Urbana Police Department, noticed that the little girl still had a pulse.
"When I was in Boy Scouts I took life-saving training, so I immediately knew what to do," he said.
"Michelle was in a position where she could grab the child's head and tilt it back so we could try to clear an airway. As soon as we did that, the child took a breath."
Norton then directed Robinson to sit with the girl and continue holding her head back until emergency medical personnel could arrive.
"You are supposed to check for a pulse, check for breathing and clear the airway, and that is what we did," Norton said.
Medical personnel soon found and removed a 3-inch screw that was lodged in the little girl's throat.
"It was abundantly clear that this obstruction would have killed the child except for the fact that Sgt. Norton and the other officer acted so swiftly," Connolly said.
The little girl was taken to a hospital for further evaluation and was later released with a full recovery.
"Because of Jason Norton's quick response, professionalism under stress and his diligence in ensuring a thorough evaluation was conducted, this child is alive today," Connolly said. "His exemplary performance brings honor to the Urbana Police Department and is clearly worthy of this Life Saving Award."
Norton said that Urbana police officers annually take part in life-saving training in preparation for incidents like the one on Silver Street.
"Having continual training really helps," he said.
Norton told The News-Gazette that he has not been reunited with the little girl since that day, but he often thinks about her.
The Life Saving Award was one of 23 awards presented at the Urbana City Council chambers to area police officers, sheriff's deputies and ordinary citizens.
Connolly said all the award winners were nominated by police officers, and a committee reviews those nominations to recommend the recipients.