MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, CA --
Teamwork, training and quick responses by first responders with the Marine Corps Police Department and the calm determination of a mother are being credited with saving a baby’s life aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., Aug. 14.
At 10:32 the night of Aug. 14, a mother visiting a friend in the Desert View Housing aboard MCLB Barstow called 9-1-1 for help when her 3-week-old baby boy stopped breathing.
Melinda Larssen, dispatch supervisor with the MCPD, said since the 911 call was made on a cell phone rather than a land line, it was automatically sent to the Barstow California Highway Patrol emergency
dispatcher because of MCLB Barstow’s proximity to the freeway.
The CHP dispatcher then connected the mother to the MCPD Consolidated Emergency Communications
Center, but the call had become disconnected.
MCPD dispatcher Kelley Arps immediately called the mother back and determined the baby was still
non-responsive and not breathing.
“I flipped to the proper page in the Power Phone book on performing CPR on an infant,” Arps said, “but I realized I didn’t really need it. I knew exactly what to say to her. I did refer to the Power Phone book to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, because it can be a time of panic when a mom is working to save her child.”
Larssen explained that the Power Phone book is a large binder with instruction cards on almost any imaginable medical emergency that can arise and explains to the dispatcher how to treat a victim.
While this was going on Arps’ partner, fellow emergency dispatcher Richard Wilson, called in a Marine Corps fire engine company, ambulance and two MCPD patrol units to respond to the scene.
Meanwhile, Arps talked the mother through how to perform 30 chest compressions on her infant son to get the oxygen-bearing blood to circulate throughout the body.
While the chest compressions were being performed on the baby by the mother, Lt. Ramon Mejia, shift watch commander for the MCPD, arrived and took over CPR duties after determining the infant was still not breathing.
“When I arrived the mother had just completed giving the baby 30 chest compressions under the direction of Arps,” Mejia said. “I could see the child’s lips were blue in color, indicating a lack of oxygen, so I tilted his head back to open his airway and gave him two quick rescue breaths, and he started crying.”
“At that moment everybody in the dispatch center just went still,” Arps said. “That baby crying was just amazing. It was music to my ears. It was the biggest blessing.”
“When I saw the baby start to cry, it was a big relief,” Mejia said.
“The mother was very calm and behaved perfectly. She listened to everything we said, she didn’t
hesitate. She saved her baby’s life,” Arps said.
The fire department ambulance then rushed the child to Barstow Community Hospital for further treatment.
“This was a total team effort,” William Atkinson, deputy chief, MCPD, said. “Lt. Mejia did an outstanding job by assisting with the CPR, but Ms. Arps had a very vital role. She provided very, very, essential help. If not for her and what Lt. Mejia did, we might be talking about a SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).”
Atkinson added both Arps and Mejia are being recommended for an award recognizing their professional performance.
“Ms. Arps’ decisiveness, dependability, and calm demeanor was vital in the steps taken to save the child’s life,” Darwin O’Neal, police chief, MCPD, said. “Her ability to remain calm under pressures in a highly stressful situation reflects the highest standards of discipline and bearing. Ms. Arps’ sturdy professionalism is an asset to the Marine Corps Police Department.”