A frantic mother suddenly stopped her car in the middle of a busy intersection in northeastern Ohio, switched on the hazard lights and sprinted to the back seat to try to help her baby, authorities said.
Tamica Pruitte told CBS affiliate WOIO that her 2-month-old daughter, Tyra, had started choking on Tuesday morning, with milk coming out of her nose.
Then, the mother said, two police officers "came out of nowhere and helped me" in the middle of a crowded street in Shaker Heights, a Cleveland suburb.
Bodycam video shows the moment that officers Alex Oklander and Ryan Sidders pulled the baby from the vehicle, turned her facedown and took turns delivering careful blows to her tiny back.
"Come here, sweetie," one of the officers said as he started administering first aid, according to the video. "She seems responsive," he said about the child.
The other officer then took the child and placed her facedown over his forearm, performing a version of the Heimlich maneuver commonly used for infants.
"I can hear air moving," he said. "She's moving air. Okay, she's breathing."
The Shaker Heights Police Department posted the video Tuesday on Facebook, saying that the officers "never expected that stopping to help a disabled motorist would require a lifesaving effort."
As the two officers arrived at the vehicle earlier this week, they told WOIO, they tried to determine what was wrong.
"We were thinking maybe the car broke down and needed a tow truck en route or something like that," Sidders told the station. "Then we see the mother exit the car and run to the other side really, really quickly."
Oklander said she "seemed kind of frantic and didn't really know what to do."
So the officers stepped in.
" 'Save my baby.' That's all I was thinking about - 'save my baby,' " Pruitte told WOIO.
After several swift blows to the baby's back, the officers heard a cough.
"We were both kind of the like, 'phew,' " Sidders later told the station.
The officers passed the baby to her mother, who then used a nasal aspirator on the child.
Pruitte told WOIO that she is thankful for the officers, "because, if it wasn't for them, I'd probably still be out there doing CPR on her."
The Washington Post could not immediately reach Pruitte or the officers for comment.
The Heimlich maneuver the officers used is a technique performed to help dislodge blockages from the airways of people who are choking. Several different versions can be used, depending on the age and physical condition of the person.
The Mayo Clinic outlines the steps to administer the Heimlich maneuver to children younger than 1:
- Assume a seated position and hold the infant facedown on your forearm, which is resting on your thigh. Support the infant's head and neck with your hand, and place the head lower than the trunk.
- Thump the infant gently but firmly five times on the middle of the back using the heel of your hand. The combination of gravity and the back blows should release the blocking object. Keep your fingers pointed up to avoid hitting the infant in the back of the head.
- Turn the infant faceup on your forearm, resting on your thigh with the head lower than the trunk if the infant still isn't breathing. Using two fingers placed at the center of the infant's breastbone, give five quick chest compressions. Press down about 1 1/2 inches, and let the chest rise again in between each compression.
- Repeat the back blows and chest thrusts if breathing doesn't resume. Call for emergency medical help.
- Begin infant CPR if one of these techniques opens the airway but the infant doesn't resume breathing.