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Scott County officer credited with saving choking inmate’s life

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- A corrections officer at Scott County Jail saved a choking inmate's life in mere seconds.

Hearing an unidentifiable noise, Tamara Riojas, a Scott County sheriff's deputy, initially thought a fight was breaking out on Aug. 13, 2019.

She soon realized an inmate had dropped their tray and was choking on a piece of food.

"We are always trained to observe a situation first because sometimes inmates play games with you," Riojas said. "I was by myself, so I had to make a choice whether to go help him or stay at my desk and do nothing."

Sheriff Tim Lane awarded Riojas the department's Lifesaver's Award Thursday for successfully performing the Heimlich maneuver on that choking inmate.

Before this, Riojas said she's never had to put her mandatory CPR training to use.

"I've been here 20 years and doing it [the training] every year you go, 'Ah, I've got to get training again'," she said. "Now that I know that it works, you see it in action and you see that it actually works."

Riojas is a booking officer at the jail as well as a field training officer at the Sheriff's Department.

In the future, she said she'll use her experience to help train other corrections officers.

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