Most people experience the phenomenon of being in the right place at the right time only a handful of times in their lives. For Paramedic Steven Gray and EMT Joseph Dasenbrock, one of those moments came at the most unexpected time – following a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane.
As a network provider under American Medical Response’s contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Lakeside EMS in Effingham, Illinois, deployed teams to Southwest Florida following the devastating impacts of Hurricane Ian. Gray and Dasenbrock were among those team members.
After their arrival in Orlando, the pair were assigned to special duty at the Hardee County Fire Department located in central Florida.
“One night, we were sitting down eating supper in the firehouse when we heard this frantic person running up to the station just screaming,” said Gray. “We opened the door, and a woman just dropped an unresponsive baby in Joey’s hands.”
The baby was blue and lifeless, and the mother was visibly shaken. Dasenbrock handed the baby over to Gray, and together they quickly worked their way through the firehouse to their ambulance.
According to Gray and Dasenbrock, it was a moment when training and experience took over.
“We placed the baby down on the stretcher, and they started making a sound that made me suspect they may be choking,” said Gray. “I immediately flipped the baby over and started performing back thrusts.”
After several back thrusts, the baby began to show signs of life. Gray and Dasenbrock quickly checked the baby for a foreign body airway obstruction, performed suction and immediately started oxygen. While all this was happening in the ambulance, the teams at the fire department were busy trying to calm and comfort the child’s mother.
“The mother was being consoled by multiple care providers because she was obviously very distraught,” said Dasenbrock. “The second that Steven opened the back of the ambulance and asked for her and she heard the baby crying, she was a lot better.”
With the baby now stable, Gray and Dasenbrock were able to get more information on the child’s overall health, and it turns out the baby had an extensive history of severe cardiac issues.
Due to this incident and the baby’s prior heart problems, Gray, Dasenbrock and the team from the fire department agreed that it was best if the baby was transported by air ambulance to an area hospital for further evaluation and care.
For both Gray and Dasenbrock, the emotions of the call took a few days to process.
“It was one of those moments where you just hope that all of the pieces fall into place and that people are able to do what they are trained to do, and you just get lucky, and thankfully we did,” said Dasenbrock.
The events of that day definitely hit close to home for Gray, who has a young child of his own.
“This was my first baby save and I really didn’t know how to even think about everything in the days afterward, I was just super emotional,” said Gray. “I have a two-year-old at home.”
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