A mother was in the right place at the right time when her 10-month-old son stopped breathing.
Lauren Mclaughlin was getting a coffee at a Dunkin’ Donut’s drive-thru when her baby made a strange wheezing sound. She quickly realized he wasn’t breathing.
“I thought 100% that I lost my son in that moment,” McLaughlin recalled.
Her instincts kicked in immediately, and fortunately for her, she saw two police cars parked near the shop.
Sgt. David DeLeeuw of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office was briefing Waretown police Lt. Scott Murphy and Patrolman Philip Calanni on a community policing assignment involving a drone when Mclaughlin ran through the door with the baby in her arms screaming that her baby was not breathing and had collapsed.
The officers responded immediately and realized the child had no pulse.
According to app.com, none of the officers had performed infant CPR before, which requires the use of two fingers instead of an entire hand.
Calanni and DeLeeuw didn’t hesitate. They quickly moved the baby to a table and ripped open his onesie to give CPR, which they took turns with. Murphy returned with the oxygen and tried to find out more from McLaughlin.
“What felt like an eternity happened very quickly,” DeLeeuw said.
More officers showed up to help, including Waretown Sgt. Michael Ward, Patrolman Kyle Pimm and Corporal Michael Cicero.
Then Pimm arrived with a defibrillator and took over CPR while customers began comforting the distraught Mclaughlin. Officers then noticed a reassuring sign.
“We stopped and felt a weak pulse in the baby’s armpit,” DeLeeuw said. “You could start to see he was regaining color.”
The baby began to breathe slightly. At this point, the oxygen was crucial.
Quality Medical Transport, a daytime first aid service in the town arrived and transported the baby to Southern Ocean Medical Center in Stafford, NJ. Murphy and Pimm also went into the ambulance to continue CPR – the baby was breathing but still in critical condition.
The mother and baby were eventually flown to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, where the baby was put into the pediatric intensive care unit. For three days, Leland was on a ventilator and remained under sedation. He finally regained consciousness, and on the sixth day in the hospital moved to the regular pediatric floor where he was “back to babbling like nothing ever happened,” according to Mclaughlin.
McLaughlin said she felt “lucky, just very, very lucky,” while fighting back tears.
So far, the exact cause of Leland’s problem has not been determined.
DeLeeuw attributed the officers’ fast and appropriate response to their training and the pressure to perform as the public expects. He hopes that the incident will inspire others to seek first aid training.
Murphy added, “We were truly in the right place at the right time for that child.”