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Utility workers saved woman

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By Karl Moffatt
Las Vegas Optic

Two city utility department employees who saved the life of an elderly woman this past June earned recognition from Las Vegas Mayor Alfonso Ortiz Jr. at Wednesday night’s council meeting.

The pair found the woman face down and apparently dead in the front yard of her home off Eighth Street and revived her with cardiopulmonary resuscitation and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

The woman, identified as Frances Esquibel, 79, passed away last week at an Albuquerque nursing home.

“Her kids told me they were grateful to have had that little bit of more time to spend with her,” said Louie R. Montaño, 39, a meter reader with the city’s utilities department who performed the life-saving measures to revive Esquibel.

Esquibel had apparently been working in the front yard of her home off Eighth Street near Legion Drive on June 5 when she collapsed. Her husband of many years, Tito, died in September 2009.

Luckily, Montaño and fellow city worker David Marquez, 29, were in the neighborhood checking on a water leak at nearby Memorial Middle School when they saw the woman face down in the dirt in her front yard.

A couple of other men were already on the scene and were busy taking pictures of her with their cell phones but never bothered to call for an ambulance, Marquez said.

Montaño, who had life-saving training from his days of working with the fire department, sprang into action while Marquez called for medical assistance.

“I got her turned over, swept her mouth clean and did two quick breaths and then 16 chest compressions,” Montano said. “When I gave her another breath, she coughed, blinked and opened her eyes and asked us what we were doing.”

An ambulance came and took the woman to the hospital, from which she checked out the next day. She welcomed Montaño at her home when he came to check on her.

“She told me I was her little angel,” said Montaño, who has worked with the city for seven years.

Just last week Montaño got word from her family that Esquibel had passed, and he attended her funeral here in Las Vegas.

In accepting his letter of recognition from the mayor, Montaño noted that he wished the city would provide more training to all city employees so they too could possibly save a life while on the job.

In other business, the city council:
• Approved the city’s labor contract with employees including a 50- cents-an-hour raise and changes to on-call provisions.

• Transferred operation of the city’s animal shelter under contract to the Animal Welfare Coalition of Northeastern New Mexico beginning Sept. 1.

• Adopted the city Marketing Committee recommendation to contract with Northstar Destination Strategies for branding and marketing services for the city.

• Agreed on taking out a 10-year loan with the state Finance Authority for $112,045 at 0.27-percent interest to be repaid with lodger’s tax revenues to purchase a double-sided solar-powered, computer-operated, video streaming, reader board to advertise and inform the public of ongoing and upcoming events in the city. Councilwoman Tonita Gurule-Giron was the lone dissenting vote on the board.

• Agreed to publish for citizen consideration and possible approval a 1 percent increase in the city’s lodger’s tax rate.

• Purchased for about $26,000 a booster station to pump water from a well at New Mexico Highlands University into the city’s water system.

• Allowed for a zoning change recommended by the city’s Development and Review team and Planning and Zoning Commission to facilitate development of a fuel storage facility and store by the Franken Company on an estimated five-acre parcel the company owns on the 1800 block of North Grand.