WEST WARWICK — Thanks to the heroic actions of two members of the West Warwick Police Department, an incident that could have ended in tragedy instead became a reason to rejoice.
On Friday evening, July 30, Breana Marfeo was at the I Love America Days carnival in the West Warwick Civic Center parking lot with her newborn daughter Isabella Torres when the infant began choking on formula.
Luckily, officers Nicholas Santilli and Ricardo Erilus were there to help.
“If it wasn’t for them, she probably wouldn’t be here today,” Marfeo, a West Warwick resident and mother of two, said of the officers who came to her daughter’s rescue.
The West Warwick Council Chambers echoed with applause Tuesday night, as Santilli and Erilus were recognized for the swift response that saved baby Isabella’s life.
Before their colleagues and families, the officers both were given citations from the Town Council for their “exemplary conduct and outstanding performance in an emergency situation.”
Among those gathered Tuesday were Marfeo and Isabella, who is one month old today.
“I can’t thank them enough for what they did,” Marfeo said, Isabella tucked into her arms.
The officers acted quickly to apply the first aid skills they had learned while in the police academy, explained Erilus, an officer in West Warwick since January of 2019.
It was a stressful situation, Erilus said, but ultimately “it was just another day” on the job.
“Obviously, you feel pressure when you do something like that,” he said, citation in hand. “But this is what we signed up for — we were just doing our job. We were doing what we’re supposed to do.”
Ernest Lavigne, chief of the West Warwick Police Department, praised the officers for their life-saving actions that day. He said he’s “proud to be leading guys like that.”
Santilli, who’s served on the department since July of 2018, and Erilus “truly represent all that’s good in the West Warwick Police Department,” Lavigne said, calling the officers kind, compassionate and respectful.
“I don’t find it surprising at all that they jumped into action to do everything they could to help save a choking child,” he said. “I’m not surprised at all that their names were brought up in an incident like that.”
Lavigne also applauded Marfeo for recognizing that there was an emergency, and for recognizing that the police were there to help.
Lavigne is grateful, he added, that Santilli and Erilus were at the right place at the right time, and that they had the training and the composure to provide the necessary medical aid to the infant.
“Who knows? If they weren’t there, or they weren’t properly trained, or they weren’t comfortable with doing what they did, the outcome could have been tragic,” he continued. “It was really the best possible outcome.”