Socorro has it’s own workplace hero

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It was after dinner on a warm September night at the Smith’s Food and Drug store in Socorro.

Baby Romeo was limp and blue. His parents were frantic.
Lucky for Romeo, who was about 12 months old, a new checker, Rachel Herrera, knew what to do.

Rachel Herrera was recognized Tuesday, May 21, for her outstanding response in saving a 12-month-old's life at the Socorro Smith's grocery store.

“I don’t know what happened, but he had stopped breathing. He was blue, blue, blue,” Herrera said. “His mother handed me the baby, and he was limp like a rag doll. I laid him on the floor and I gave him a breath and some compressions. I could hear him taking a little breath in, so I gave him another breath and then he started crying. It was pretty intense.”

Herrera was honored for her heroic actions at the 2013 Red Cross Real Heroes Award Breakfast on Tuesday, along with other real life heroes who display extraordinary courage and commitment in saving or improving the lives of others.

“I feel like she saved that baby’s life,” said Dennis Baca, Herrera’s manager, who nominated her for the award. He added paramedics arrived soon after the baby started crying.

“Rachel’s an exceptional employee and a joy to be around,” Baca said. Since then he has been working with the Socorro Fire Department to set up CPR classes for his staff, he said.

Herrera, 24, who works at the store on weekends while she attends school to become a medical assistant, says one day she hopes to be a registered nurse. She had just completed a child and infant CPR class before starting at Smith’s.

She sees Romeo when his parents come to the store.

“They go through my line,” she said. “It’s pretty neat to still see him. He’s grown a lot since then.”

Ellen Welker, the local Red Cross agency’s development manager, said the agency received 54 nominations for the dozen or so hero awards.

“I am touched by the generosity of spirit and compassion of heart among these heroes,” Welker said. “I am most honored to be a part of the American Red Cross in New Mexico.”

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