'Wholly unique': Portland cop helps woman in crisis who delivered baby on sidewalk

“It was a real bizarre call and scary time for her," said Officer Nathan Kirby-Glatkowski. "I deeply wanted to get this woman to a hospital"

By Savannah Eadens

PORTLAND, Ore. — Nathan Kirby-Glatkowski, a police officer in Portland’s Central Precinct, has been called to many bizarre, sad situations in his past six years with the bureau.

But Wednesday morning brought something “wholly unique,” he said. Just before 11 a.m., Kirby-Glatkowski helped a woman in a mental health crisis who had delivered her baby on a downtown sidewalk.

“It was immediately clear that in addition to any physical trauma the mother had experienced, she was also undergoing a pretty serious mental health crisis,” Kirby-Glatkowski said during an interview Thursday morning with The Oregonian/OregonLive.

The response began after Portland Fire Bureau and ambulances were called by witnesses who reported finding a baby near Southwest 13th Avenue and Market Street. Kirby-Glatkowski was nearby with his partner searching for a serial burglary suspect when he was dispatched to help after the first responders realized the mother had walked away covered in blood.

The baby was safe in an ambulance when Kirby-Glatkowski found the mother a block away. He said the woman was incoherent, confused and trying to leave, but officers were able to keep her calm until an ambulance took her to the hospital about 10 minutes later.

The woman, Kirby-Glatkowski said, was “completely disconnected from the events around her.”

“The idea that somebody would go through what is an incredibly traumatic, medical, emotional event that can be dangerous and life-threatening on the street corner of Southwest 13th and Market, a stone’s throw from a highway in 40 degree weather after it had been raining all morning, was very alarming,” Kirby-Glatkowski said. “It was a real bizarre call and scary time for her and anyone else witnessing that. I deeply wanted to get this woman to a hospital. I felt there was an immediate danger to herself, so that was my priority.”

Kirby-Glatkowski, who along with his partner both work on the bureau’s Crisis Intervention Team and have been trained to help people in crisis, communicated with the police bureau’s Behavioral Health Unit. They learned the unit had worked with the woman in the past, and its clinicians became involved to ensure the mother got help, police said.

Kirby-Glatkowski said other officers returned to the area and tried to talk to witnesses, but no one reporting seeing the woman give birth, only that they had found the baby. Officers said passerby and witnesses were instrumental in getting emergency services for the mother and child.

Kevin Allen, a public information officer for the police bureau, confirmed that the hospital reported the mother and newborn baby girl were in good condition. The officers were told the baby went to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit because of the circumstances she was born into, but that the baby is “doing fine and being monitored.”

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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