Interim Police Chief Jim Uptegrove, left, presents a plaque to officer Terra Avilla at the Susanville City Council’s Jan. 4 meeting. Avilla was honored for saving the life of a newborn in the parking lot at Rite-Aid in October 2016. Photo by Sam Williams

Officer honored for saving a life

Police officers dedicate their lives to the responsibility to protect and serve the residents in their community. Sometimes their dedication to these lofty ideals can lead to even greater things – such as the saving of a young life.

Interim Police Chief Jim Uptegrove honored Susanville Police Officer Terra Avilla of the at the Wednesday, Jan. 4 Susanville City Council meeting for her role in saving the life of a baby born in the back seat of a vehicle last October. He said the department has a program to honor officers who go “above and beyond” what would normally be expected of them during the course of their duties.

While on patrol, Avilla saved a newborn’s life after a woman in a car in the Rite-Aid parking lot had just given birth in the backseat of a vehicle. When Avilla arrived, the mother was holding the newborn wrapped in a towel, and the officer noticed the baby had not cried, was not breathing and was turning purple.

Avilla asked for permission to assist in resuscitating the newborn and prior to removing the baby from the vehicle to perform CPR, she had to cut the umbilical cord.

“As soon as she did that, the baby took a deep breath and began to cry,” Uptegrove said.

Avilla held the baby and stayed with the mother until medical assistance arrived, and both were transported to Banner Lassen Hospital via ambulance.

“Avilla remained calm during the incident,” said Uptegrove, “and relying on her training, experience and through her quick actions she is credited with saving the life of this newborn child. Officer Avilla is commended for her act of heroism in saving the life of another. She acted quickly, and professionally – living the department’s mission of ‘Pride in Service and Service with Pride.’

“I want to sincerely thank her and recognize her for her valued effort. She is a great reflection of this department and of all law enforcement.”

As she accepted her award from Uptegrove, Avilla received a standing ovation from residents attending the meeting.