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Mass. officer saves choking infant 10 minutes after completing CPR training

Winthrop Police Department Officer Robert Jaworski is credited with saving the life of baby Savannah after he delivered back blows to clear her airways

By Makiya Seminera
The Charlotte Observer

WINTHROP, Mass. — A Massachusetts officer had to put his knowledge from a CPR training to the test just minutes after completing the course, police said.

As a 30-year veteran officer at the Winthrop Police Department, Robert Jaworski enrolled in a CPR refresher course to complete Tuesday, Feb. 20, according to a Winthrop Public Safety news release. Ten minutes after he finished his training, the police department said it got a very important call.

A 1-month-old baby was choking in a home and needed help, police said. Responders from the police department and Winthrop Fire Department rushed to the house, but Jaworski was the first to arrive, officials said.

The infant named Savannah was being watched by her grandparents when she started to choke on her formula, grandfather Daniel Barnes told WCVB.

“My wife was trying to pat her on the back to clear the airway, and thank God the ambulance and the cops showed up,” Barnes said, according to the news outlet.

When Jaworski made it to the scene, Barnes told WCVB the officer turned her over to face the floor and patted Savannah’s back three times.

“The third back blow, the child started crying, which is always a wonderful thing,” he said to the outlet.

Jaworski dislodged the formula from the infant’s throat, which allowed her to breathe again, authorities said. The baby and a parent were sent to Massachusetts General Hospital for a check-up after the incident, according to officials.

In a “critical moment” for saving the 1-month-old’s life, Jaworski showed “professionalism, courage and skill,” Police Chief Terence Delehanty said in the news release.

“Jaworski’s prompt response and application of back thrusts to the unresponsive infant were nothing short of extraordinary, and undoubtedly played a crucial role in ensuring the baby’s well-being,” Fire Chief Scott Wiley said in the news release.

Winthrop is about 5 miles northeast of Boston.

How to perform CPR on a baby

Choking is fourth highest cause of unintentional death for children under 5, according to the New York Department of Health. Across the U.S., one child dies from choking on their food about every five days, the department said.

It’s important to know the steps of performing CPR on a child or infant, and the American Red Cross suggests enrolling in a child CPR class to learn more in-depth.

Before giving a baby CPR, the health organization recommends:

  • Checking the child’s attention to see how responsive they are. If the child is a baby, the American Red Cross suggests shouting, then tapping the baby’s foot and shouting again if they don’t respond initially.
  • Don’t spend more than 10 seconds checking a child’s attentiveness.
  • Call 911 if a child is not responding, not breathing or gasping uncontrollably.

To perform CPR on a child, the American Red Cross says to:

  • Put the child’s back against a “firm, flat surface” by kneeling next to them.
  • Deliver 30 compressions.
  • With older children, place the heel of one of your hands against the middle of their chest with the other on top. Then, start pushing “hard and fast” while allowing their chest to rise after each compression.
  • For small children, use one hand for compressions.
  • If giving CPR to a baby, put both thumbs together at the center of the baby’s chest and push.
  • Give the child in need two breaths by blowing into their mouth for one second in a neutral position.

The American Red Cross recommends continuing to repeat the steps until you see an “obvious sign of life” or an automated external defibrillator can be used.


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