Column - Call for help calmly answeredI had to call 9-1-1. It was surprisingly simple. I remained quite calm.
By: By Greta Petrich, Staff Reporter, Alexandria Echo Press
I had to call 9-1-1.
It was surprisingly simple.
I remained quite calm.
While covering Osakis High School graduation last weekend, I noticed a woman rushing down the bleachers. She was carrying a baby. It seemed odd, considering the baby wasn’t crying. I watched her leave the gym and something didn’t feel right.
I stepped out the gym door and asked the woman if she needed any help.
She asked me if I had a cell phone – yes – and to please call 911. My heart jumped as I saw the panicked expression on her face. Without thinking, I asked what was wrong with the baby and how old she was.
911 what is your location?
I’m at the Osakis High School.
And what is the emergency?
I’m with a woman and her baby is having trouble breathing. She’s 2 weeks old.
At that point my cell phone began to scratch/break up, I asked the dispatcher to hold on while I moved to a door so I could hear.
I encouraged the woman to follow me to the main entrance of the school where we stepped out into the warm afternoon sun.
Her eyes moved from me to the baby she cradled in her arms as I translated questions and answers back and forth, adding many of my own observations about the situation.
She hasn’t eaten for about 45 minutes; she’s very pink, but not red in color; yes, she was trying to catch her breath, but no, she didn’t appear to be choking.
I struggled for words as I tried to explain the way the baby’s tongue moved in her open mouth, as I mimicked the motion I felt mucus and bubbles in my own throat and looked closer. I see a lot of clear bubbles in her throat, not milky.
I was surprised how the dispatcher continued to ask me questions, keeping me talking until I pointed out that Osakis Police Chief Mark Gilson was there.
He arrived quickly and I felt relieved by his calm manner as he encouraged the mother to turn the baby onto her stomach and point her head downward. Even when the mother struggled to change her cradling hold on her child, he continued to coax her into following his instructions, acknowledging it may not seem comfortable, but it was the best way to release anything caught in her throat.
The color returned to the mother’s face as her baby let out a series of wails. As soon as I saw one of the Osakis first responders coming down the sidewalk, I knew I was no longer needed and returned to the graduation ceremony.
I didn’t realize the effect of the moment until my next several attempts at taking photos turned blurry from my shaking hands.
I closed my eyes and prayed for the tiny girl and her parents – yes, the father had been there with us.
Again, I stepped back into the hall and looked outside, as the mother and child were stepping into the North Ambulance.
Even though it wasn’t my emergency, I am so thankful and pleased with our police department and first responder service.
They arrived at the scene in no time. Looking back, I couldn’t imagine not having a trained professional there to help until the ambulance arrived from Alexandria.
While I never got the names of the parents, I’m so thankful for their calm nature, their awareness of their child and that I was able to make a simple phone call.
“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.