It was 6:40 one Monday morning when Dental Assisting student, Jesus Sanchez, just a few minutes into his 25-minute commute from Farmersville to the Visalia campus, was jolted into full alert. Just ahead of him a SUV and a motorcyclist collided, and the bike rider was briefly airborne.
“It happened real quick, but it seemed like forever, too,” says Jesus. “He swerved his motorcycle to avoid collision, but his body took the brunt of the impact.”
Jesus pulled his car between oncoming traffic and the crash victim’s body, which had landed near the side of the road of oncoming traffic. Jesus was first to get to the injured man, and his instinct kicked in.
“I wasn’t aware of making any decisions, my body just responded automatically,” says Jesus.
“It looked really bad,” says Jesus, “especially his right side where he hit the truck.”
The young man tried to lift his head, and then lay back down. Jesus first checked the victim’s breathing. There was no respiration; he felt no pulse. Jesus sprinted to his car to get his CPR face mask.
“I always keep it in my car like Mrs. Hover (DA instructor) told me to,” says Jesus, who had just completed CPR training the month before, as part of his DA program.
While others who stopped their cars were calling 911, Jesus began to perform his newly acquired live-saving skill: thirty compressions, two breaths, thirty compressions, two breaths…then, there was motion. The victim awoke, but could not talk. He nodded in response to Jesus’ question about whether he knew he had been in an accident. He mumbled, then he was back out.
“Don’t fall asleep on me; stay awake; the ambulance is on the way!” Jesus told him. “His body got loose, he was unconscious, and I started CPR again.”
A fire truck got to the site, and a couple of minutes later the ambulance arrived. Jesus was asked to step away. After a few minutes the emergency crew told him that he could leave.
Later that morning Jesus found out from mutual friends that the victim’s name was Fernando Deanda. When Jesus left school that day he decided to go to Kaweah Delta District Hospital to check on him. In the waiting room he met Fernando’s family and friends, some of whom he knew from high school. Fernando was still in surgery and no one knew what the outcome might be.
“Everybody got up and started hugging me when I got there,” says Jesus. “I was there all afternoon, while Fernando had multiple surgeries.”
As it turned out, Fernando’s right leg was shattered with several breaks and his forearm was broken. But, Fernando had survived because of the life-saving procedure Jesus had performed. It was a fact not lost on Fernando’s family.
“Fernando’s family kept saying that my name (Jesus) was put on me for a reason,” he says. “I felt a lot of appreciation and love from them.”
It has been a little over a week since Fernando’s accident, and in that time two lives have changed. Fernando, undoubtedly, feels a greater sense of appreciation for the life he nearly lost. And, Jesus feels what it is like to be the perfect person in the perfect place at the perfect time, to save a life. It has renewed his sense of himself.
Jesus and Fernando have gotten close, and Fernando’s family has made Jesus part of them. Jesus’ own family, especially his mom, Raquel, is very proud of what he was able to do for someone else. Word of his heroics has gotten around the SJVC campus, too.
“All the teachers from the DA program know about it, and they tell me it takes a lot to stop and do what I did,” says Jesus. “I am thankful I had Mrs. Hover for a teacher and she taught me CPR really good, or I wouldn’t know what to do.”
Jesus and his new friend, Fernando, have plans to ride their quads on the dunes at Pismo Beach, once Fernando fully recovers. He is being transferred to a rehabilitation facility where he will undergo intense physical therapy for several more weeks.
“I feel like me and him got connected really well,” says Jesus. “His family sees me like family now.”
A single moment can have an everlasting effect. Just ask Fernando and Jesus.