Ohio police officer helps deliver baby as mother sits in car
A slow night for Officer Ross took a surprising turn when he was called on to help deliver a baby
By Jeff Piorkowski
RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Ohio — It was a slow night for Richmond Heights police officer Jonathan Ross while running radar on passing cars on Richmond Road. But, as Ross sat in a cruiser at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday ( Nov. 11) in the parking lot of Faith United Church of Christ, near Richmond Town Square, a surprise awaited him.
“There wasn’t much going on, so I was trying to run radar on Richmond Road,” he recalled. “Then I saw this car and it looked like they were going to pull in by the (church’s) exit drive where I was sitting. It’s 1:30 in the morning and I’m kind of on high alert when I see a car pulling up to me in the middle of the night.” The car, however, stopped on the side of Richmond Road and a young man got out. “I asked him what’s going on and he said, ‘She’s having the baby.’ And I’m like, ‘What?’”
Ross grabbed some gloves and approached the small Toyota and saw that the baby’s head and arms were already out. "I thought, ‘Oh, wow. This is real.’ I tried to talk her through it. I tried to get her to push the baby out all the way. I noticed that the baby was limp and wasn’t crying or anything.
“Once I got her to push the baby all the way out, I grabbed the baby and the amniotic sac was over its head, so I pulled it off its head, turned it over like I would do the Heimlich maneuver, and started patting its back. He gave a little cough and a little cry and started moving and that was it.”
The entire episode took about five minutes. Paramedics were called to the scene and cut the umbilical cord before taking the mother and her baby boy to Hillcrest Hospital. Ross did not get the couple’s name, but said he believed they are a Euclid couple who are both about 19 or 20 years old.
As Ross understood it, the baby’s father called 911 from home and was given instructions on how to help with the delivery but, instead, the man decided to drive to Hillcrest Hospital by heading south on Richmond Road. “He was in a panic,” Ross said of the man’s inability to follow instructions given by the 911 dispatcher.
Ross is the father of a 5-year-old daughter and said he was present during her birth. But, he said, “Seeing her birth was nothing like this. The mother was sitting in the passenger seat of a small car, so there wasn’t much room."
Police officers get refresher courses on administering CPR or the Heimlich maneuver but, Ross said, “I never heard anything (in training) about delivering a baby.”
He said he was prepared to administer CPR to the baby, but was happy to hear the boy respond with cries after patting his back. An officer for seven years in Richmond Heights, Ross said he was involved in a medical emergency during the two prior years he worked as an officer in Boston Heights. There, he administered CPR to an elderly woman and helped her survive.
“When I think back (on helping the mother), what I expected when I walked up to the car was for maybe the baby’s head to be kind of showing. Like it was crowning, or something. I called for an ambulance immediately, but I was thinking that they’re (paramedics) going to get here and they’re going to handle this. And that’s not what happened at all.
"I didn’t have any training, but I just went with what I knew. I just tried to keep them calm because, obviously, they were pretty nervous and you could tell the mom didn’t know what to do, and the dad really didn’t know what to do. I just tried to talk them through it.”
Ross, who is the RHPD’s K-9 training officer, didn’t even get the couple’s names before they left for the hospital. “They both said, ‘Thank you, thank you so much for helping,’ and they left for the hospital.”
Richmond Heights Police Chief Thomas Wetzel said his heart was warmed by what took place on Richmond Road.
“It was truly touching and hard to keep a dry eye when watching the video and then suddenly hearing the newborn baby cry,” RHPD Chief Thomas Wetzel said. "It was a powerful moment for the officer who helped bring new life into our world. He was calm and reassuring to the mom. His actions helped save the baby’s life as it didn’t appear to be breathing at one point.
"Police personnel have been under a lot of scrutiny lately and an event like this allows people to recognize police officers for what they are: committed public servants who want to help people and make a difference. Our police department is really big on youth outreach, but this is taking it to another level.
“I’m proud of officer Ross and all the men and women on this special agency who go out day in and day out trying to make a difference for this community,” Wetzel said. “The mom and dad sounded like wonderful people and we are happy for their new blessing of a baby boy." This is one shift that Officer Ross will never forget nor will the mom and dad.”
Ross' shift continued until 7 a.m. What was the rest of that shift like for him?
“I just did a little bit of training with the dog later and, you know, my adrenalin was flowing all night and that was pretty much it. We didn’t have much going on that night.”
But, as Chief Wetzel noted, “This is one shift that officer Ross will never forget, nor will the mom and dad.”
To see dashcam video of officer Ross’s actions, visit the Richmond Heights police Facebook page.
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