As soon as her baby started choking, Janet Lockridge pulled over and called 911. Then came the agonizing wait as rescuers tried to find them in time.
As Fox 11 reports, the mom was driving in Culver City, California, when her 10-month-old daughter, Harley, began choking on a “puff.” The snack geared for toddlers is supposed to easily dissolve in a child’s mouth, but in Harley’s case, that didn’t happen.
Harley’s 10-year-old sister, Auria, did her best to remove the food from Harley’s mouth, but the baby had stopped breathing. Janet immediately pulled over and called 911 to report that her daughter was choking. She added that Harley was unresponsive and had blood coming from her mouth.
“She was struggling for air, she was struggling to breathe,” the mom told KABC. “I was afraid. I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be, and I was just praying the whole entire time.”
Culver City police officer Brian Cappell was in his car nearby when Janet called for help. It took less than a minute to get to the intersection where the mom had stopped, but he couldn’t see her car.
What he did see was Auria, standing in her pajamas, waving at him. After her mom had called 911, the young girl started running in the direction of the sirens so she could flag down the officer and show him where to go.
Once Cappell saw Auria, he ran to the stopped car and grabbed the unconscious baby. Cappell told CBSLA:
“It always makes you nervous, but it’s one of those things. But your training just kicks in.”
The officer turned Harley on her stomach and delivered a series of strikes to the baby’s back. After a few seconds, the baby began crying. Cappell told Fox 11:
“It was the most beautiful cry I’ve ever heard in my life. Going from silence to crying is an unimaginable sound.”
The crying meant that Harley was getting air again.
“As soon as we heard that cry, it was like an angel. It was literally like God sent his angel through him,” Janet added.
Paramedics arrived shortly after to treat Harley and ensure that the baby recovered. The mom told CBSLA that she was overcome with gratitude when she saw the officer again the next day:
“I asked him, I said, ‘Can I just hug you?’ And I burst into tears and his first reaction was, ‘Can I hold her?'”
This week, Cappell was honored by the City Council for saving Harley. Janet says that her daughter wouldn’t have survived if it hadn’t been for the officer’s quick thinking. She told Fox 11:
“Cherish your children’s lives and hug them right now because you might not have Officer Cappell. I hope it does not happen to anybody else because it was the worst situation of my entire life.”
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), even partial obstruction of an infant’s airway can be fatal. In the case of choking, quick action is necessary, as permanent brain damage can occur in just four minutes.
Yesterday, CCPD received a call of a baby that was unconscious and not breathing. Officer Cappell was the first unit to…
Signs of choking in infants include difficulty breathing, a bluish color to the skin, loss of consciousness, inability to cry or make noise, weak or ineffective coughing, and high-pitched or soft sounds while inhaling. If the baby is coughing hard or has a strong cry, one should not try to administer choking first aid, as the cough and cry can help dislodge the object.
If a baby is choking, the NIH says to call 911 immediately. Then, lay the child face down along your forearm. (You can use your lap or thigh for support.) Hold the baby’s chest in your hand and support the jaw with your fingers. Angle the baby’s head downward, so the head is slightly lower than the body.
Using the palm of your free hand, strike as many as five quick, forceful blows between the baby’s shoulder blades. If the object doesn’t come out after those five blows, turn the baby face-up on your lap and support its head. Put two fingers at mid-breastbone, just below the nipples, and do five quick thrusts. You should compress the chest by one-third to one-half the depth of the chest.
Rotate between five back blows and five chest thrusts until the object is dislodged or the infant becomes unresponsive. If the infant does become unresponsive, call for help and begin infant CPR.
Even if you are able to dislodge the object without difficulty, always call a doctor after a baby has experienced a choking episode.