Stranger Leaps Into Action to Save Choking Baby at North Carolina Restaurant

Not all heroes wear capes — but maybe Debra Rouse should.

Not all heroes wear capes — but maybe Debra Rouse should.

While on vacation in North Carolina during Thanksgiving, she and her family decided to have dinner at a Golden Corral restaurant.

Little did she know, that decision would end up saving a life.

Hannah Marie Jarvis was also at that same restaurant, feeding her baby mashed potatoes when little Calli started to choke.

"I looked at her and she was just gagging. And it scared me to death and so I picked her up and I looked at her face and it was just so red and then I just started beating on her back because I didn't know what to do," Jarvis told

"I was just in a panic."

Everyone was screaming, including Jarvis' waitress, which caught Rouse's attention. Without a second thought, she ran over to Calli to help.

“I just jumped up, snatched the baby out of their arms and started doing the ... maneuver where you tilt the baby down and also use the ball of your hand to slap the baby's back,” Rouse said. “They kept yelling that she wasn't breathing. So I continued. A few slaps on the back and I held her up and I felt her chest moving in and out. So she was breathing again."

Rouse said she knew what to do because she works in an ophthalmologist's office and learned it through a class. Pure instinct drove her to react so quickly.

“I would want someone to actually step in if I wasn't there for one of my sons. My main aim in grabbing that child was to say, 'I'm gonna give this baby back alive to her mom.' I wasn't going to give her back a dead baby. I wasn't going to do that."

In the midst of all the chaos, the two parents only exchanged names before an ambulance took Calli to the hospital.

Still wanting to express her gratitude, Jarvis posted Rouse’s picture on Facebook, asking if anyone knew her.

The internet did — and connected them.

"They were like, 'We've got her! We've found her!' And I was like, 'Oh my gosh, hallelujah,'" Jarvis said.

They exchanged phone numbers and hung out before Rouse returned home to South Carolina.

Going forward, Jarvis said she now plans to reach out every year during the holidays to thank Rouse for what she did.

"I want her to be a part of Calli's life as much as possible so Calli will grow up knowing that this angel helped protect her that day and she saved her," she said.

The two families are now forever connected, with a lot more to be thankful for.