Homecare Member Saves Toddler's Life

January 2, 2019

Sonia Ramirez
Photo Credit: Ellis Kaplan, New York Post

She caught child who fell from fire escape.

Sonia Ramirez is a humble home health aide who does not see herself as a hero. Her neighbors beg to differ. Many witnessed her heroism in August when she caught a 2-year-old who had fallen from a third-story fire escape in Queens, NY.

“I and a teenage girl were screaming for help, and when he started dangling from the fire escape we stood under where he was to break his fall in case he slipped,” Ramirez says, making light of the praise she’s received from her neighbors and the police who later arrived on the scene. “I didn’t think about it; I just did what I could,” she says.

She also says she feels fortunate to have been in a situation to help given what she had to overcome this year. In March, Ramirez was diagnosed with uterine cancer. “If it wasn’t for 1199 health coverage, I wouldn’t be here,” she says. “I had successful surgery and I went back to work on April 18.”

Ramirez sees saving the child and her work in general as her way of returning the good fortune that she has received. “I’ve been a home health aide for almost nine years now because of God’s help and others who have helped me,” she says.

Ramirez encountered an elderly woman in the street while looking for a job. “Before then, I had been working as a clerical, but the business closed. I wasn’t having any luck finding work when the woman I had met took me to the office of Sunnyside Community Service.”

The woman said that she would wait outside while Ramirez went in. After the job interview, Ramirez came out and looked for the woman. “She was gone and I never got to thank her,” Ramirez says.

“Because of her, I’ve been able to help others as a home health aide,” she says. “And because I was able to recover from cancer, I was able to help that child.”

Ramirez says she was emptying garbage on the day the child fell. She notes that the New York Post article on the incident focused on her, but it was the teenager (identified as Delia Chimbray in the article) who saw the child first.

“The baby must have gone through a fire escape window that did not have a bar,” she says. “He started up the fire escape and the girl and I started screaming for him to stop and also for help from neighbors or anyone who was around.”

“Then the baby started to come down, but his feet got caught and he started dangling from the fire escape, with one foot inside and the other foot outside. We didn’t have time to get anything like a blanket to catch him in, so we just put ourselves under him to break his fall. I waited and prayed to God for help.”

The toddler fell towards Ramirez. Although, he was only 2, he weighed 49 1/2 pounds. Ramirez caught him. His weight caused him to briefly slip out of her hands. His fall had been broken and he was safe.

“I was still holding the baby when his mother came down,” Ramirez says. “She had been cooking in another room and had no idea the baby had crawled onto the fire escape. She seemed to be in shock.”

Ramirez, who is widowed, lives with her son, a college student. “He sometimes asks me if I wouldn’t prefer to go back to doing clerical work. I tell him no because God has led me here to the job that I love and that I love taking care of my client.”

Ramirez says that the events of the past year have also reminded her how precious life is.

1199 Magazine: November / December 2018