The year was 1986. Shorty Vaiza was a rookie police officer for the City of Socorro.
Vaiza had been on patrol just three short weeks when he and his training officer, Sgt. Carl Ross, were dispatched to a residence for a call of someone experiencing a heart attack.

When Vaiza arrived, the woman was not breathing, nor could he find a pulse. Immediately Vaiza administered CPR to try to revive her. When the ambulance arrived, Vaiza and Bill Emillio continued two-person CPR until they arrived at the hospital.

The woman later was reported to be doing fine. But Vaiza will always remember how important it was to be trained in CPR.

Almost four decades later, Vaiza is equally as proud of his son, Joseph, a rookie with the Albuquerque Police Department.

On the morning of March 17, 2024, Joseph was dispatched to the Albuquerque Sunport International Airport where he was advised an elderly female was unconscious and not breathing.

As the younger Vaiza was on his way to the airport he stopped and grabbed and AED defibrillator. As he approached the Southwest terminal, he saw an elderly woman in a wheelchair unconscious and wasn’t breathing.

He removed the woman from the wheelchair and placed her on the ground. He then opened the AED and placed the pads on her upper left chest and right side of the rib cage area. After the AED analysis, he was instructed to start CPR compressions. After three rounds of CPR compressions, the Albuquerque Rescue Team arrived and was advised the female, at the time, had a weak pulse.

Later that afternoon, when calling for information on the elderly woman, the younger Vaiza learned the Texas woman had survived, was conscious and talking with the family.
Vaiza now has been recommended for an “Officer of the Month” citation with the city’s aviation division – a division he was assigned to in September 2023.
After the incident at the airport in mid-March, the woman’s family called Officer Vaiza and thanked him for saving their mother’s life.

In addition to the Officer of the Month nomination, Vaiza’s name has been submitted for a separate Life Saving Award. In an inter-office memo it states Vaiza leads by example, setting the highest level possible for his fellow officers to emulate.