In this photo, Jose Faudoa holds a toothbrush similar to the one he used Oct. 4 to open the airway of a victim in a motorcycle crash who was bleeding from the ear after suffering a traumatic brain injury near the Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds in Las Cruces, N.M. (Shari Vialpando-Hill / Las Cruces Sun-News via AP)
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LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Jose Faudoa is trying to get a job and probably could use a good character reference.
Would saving someone's life be what's needed to get him employed?
"I had a job interview (Monday), but it was postponed," Faudoa said. "I'm going to school (New Mexico State University), and my focus right now is on finishing my degree in criminal justice. While I'm doing that, I'd like to work in law enforcement, maybe as a police officer or a Border Patrol agent."
Faudoa, a 27-year-old infantryman with the New Mexico National Guard's 1-200th Infantry Battalion based in Las Cruces, is heralded by paramedics and commended by Dona Ana County Sheriff's Department for saving 19-year-old Stephen Calderon's life. Faudoa was leaving the Southern New Mexico State Fair on Oct. 4 when he saw Calderon lying off the side of Robert Larsen Boulevard, near the entrance to the fairgrounds. It was dark along that part of the roadway, but Faudoa saw Calderon's motorcycle on top of the teen.
Some people might have keep going — not wanting to get involved, or thinking that police or some other first responders would stop and take care of Calderon. But Faudoa didn't hesitate, let instinct and years of first aid training take over, and he tended to what turned out to be very serious head injuries to Calderon.
"I've been taking that first aid training for years," said Faudoa, of the Combat Lifesaver Skills he was taught as an infantryman in the National Guard. "I just knew that if I didn't help him, he was going to die right there on the spot. His friends were crying because they didn't know what to do. A woman in a pickup truck stopped before I did, and she was trying to call for help.
He immediately called 911 from his cellphone and then made another call to Capt. Edward Madson, 1-200th company commander, who at the time was on duty as a sheriff's deputy at the fair.
Calderon, who apparently wasn't wearing a helmet at the time he crashed his motorcycle, was bleeding profusely from his head. Faudoa said he heard "a gurgling noise" and immediately sensed Calderon was choking. A gentleman offered Faudoa his shirt to wrap around Calderon's head, and a friend of Faudoa's had towels in the vehicle they were riding in.
"I said I needed something to open his airway, because it sounded to me like it was blocked," Faudoa said. "Somebody handed me a toothbrush." So, with the toothbrush, Faudoa found a way to open Calderon's airway and keep it open until paramedics could arrive. Faudoa also instructed others not to move Calderon because of the possibility of a spinal injury and other potential wounds.
When help arrived, Faudoa informed paramedics of Calderon's injuries and the treatment he administered, helped law enforcement in directing emergency response and then helped paramedics give Calderon an intravenous transfusion for transport to the hospital.
"I was able to stay with him right up until the time they put him in the ambulance," Faudoa said. "I didn't feel like I'd done anything special. I don't feel like a hero now. I just feel like I did what I had to do."
But the gravity of the circumstances hit home a few hours later.
"Oh no, I didn't sleep much that night," Faudoa said. "I remember afterward that I couldn't stop shaking."
But with the understanding that seconds count, paramedics later told Madson and other sheriff's deputies that Faudoa's quick actions likely saved Calderon's life.
"He basically did everything he could," said Madson, of Faudoa. "If he hadn't taken the action he took, that young man would have passed away."
Calderon was listed in critical condition Tuesday at University Medical Center in El Paso, where he transferred from Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces.
The New Mexico National Guard lives by the credo "Beyond the Standard." Col. Michael Montoya, public affairs officer for the New Mexico National Guard, said Faudoa certainly lived up to that motto.
"His quick-thinking is such a tremendous asset," Montoya said. "We at the New Mexico National Guard certainly are proud of what he did to help a fellow New Mexican."
National Guard officials have recommended Faudoa be awarded for his life-saving efforts.
"We felt that his actions, which reflect positively on the New Mexico Army National Guard and the 1-200th Infantry, should be recognized," said Capt. Joshua T. Schatzman, with the 1-200th Infantry.
Faudoa wasn't aware of the praise or the recommendation for award from National Guard officials until Monday. He was pleased, however, to learn that Calderon was showing satisfactory recovery at an El Paso hospital.
"I heard he was doing better, that he was going to be OK," Faudoa said. "That was perhaps the best news I could have heard.
"As for what my superiors in the National Guard are saying, I'm honored they feel that way. They are the ones who have provided me with all of the training I was able to rely on."
Now, Faudoa would like to be able to parlay that into a job that will help him finish college.