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Red Cross Hometown Heroes: Police officers' quick action saved baby Zeke

March 15, 2015 Updated: March 15, 2015 at 4:31 am
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photo - Colorado Springs Police officer Mike Palmer with Zeke. Photo courtesy of Valerie Trujillo
Colorado Springs Police officer Mike Palmer with Zeke. Photo courtesy of Valerie Trujillo 

When a newborn baby stopped breathing in a Colorado Springs hotel room in December, police who had been blocks away were surprised to find themselves first to arrive on scene.

Usually, the Fire Department arrives first on such calls.

But officer Mike Palmer sprung into action and started performing CPR on Zeke Trujillo-Gonzales, just 13 days old, as officer Kevin Hall, who was in training at the time, tried to keep small children and a dog calm and out of Palmer's way.

The two officers are this year's First Responder Hometown Heroes award from the Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Valerie Trujillo, Zeke's mother, was one of three people to nominate Palmer for the award.

"I'm really happy, he really deserves it," she said. "Everybody that helped him deserves it, but officer Palmer, he was the first one to, without hesitation, step in and help my son."

Palmer has saved three lives in his 22-year career as a Colorado Springs police officer, including one other person with CPR.

Not too long after he started at the Colorado Springs Police Department in the early 1990s, Palmer saw a wreck he'll never forget. A car zoomed down the street near Fountain and Academy boulevards on a snowy day and crashed so hard the driver lost his legs below the knees, and a passenger was thrown from the vehicle and landed on the burning engine.

Palmer saw the man, on fire, sail down the street on the engine and pulled him off, saving his life.

About 12 to 15 years ago, Palmer performed CPR on a woman who had attempted suicide by locking herself in a garage with her running vehicle. A neighbor heard the sound and thought it was odd, and Palmer saved the woman's life.

CPR training is something first responders hope they'll never have to use, Palmer said. He finished a refresher course shortly before the day Zeke stopped breathing. He gave the Colorado Springs Fire Department high praise for their quick actions, too, and said the city is lucky to have "the most awesome fire department in the state."

The Red Cross award means a lot to him, he said, and is probably even more special than the award CSPD will give him next year for the same incident.

"A large amount of stuff that we do goes unnoticed," Palmer said. "(The award is) pretty awesome."

Palmer performed CPR on Zeke until paramedics arrived on scene. When the baby took a breath and cried for the first time, it was an emotional moment.

"Hearing that kid cry again, it was almost like hearing my kid cry for the first time," Hall said.

He graduated from the police academy in mid-October and was training with Palmer at the time of the incident. He's been patrolling on his own for more than a month a now. He and Palmer are native Colorado Springs residents.

Hall gave Palmer and the Fire Department all the credit. He looks up to Palmer for how quickly he acted, and how he showed Hall how important it is not to take training for granted. Not much more than a minute elapsed between the time they walked through the door and when the Fire Department showed up, he said, but it felt like forever.

"It was an eye opener to me that this event took place," Hall said. "I was so glad officer Palmer was there because he showed me what it takes to be a first responder."

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Contact Kassondra Cloos: 636-0362

Twitter: @Kassondra Cloos

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