By Gina Mayfield
On a busy weekday, as Kansas City Metro Patrol Officers Richard DuChaine and Charles Owen sat in their patrol car finalizing notes on a previous call, another one came in: Medical nature unknown. A 1-month-old was not breathing.
“Before the call was even completely dispatched to us, I already had the car in drive and we were on our way with our lights and sirens. We wanted to make sure the parents could hear us coming,” Officer Owen says. Luckily, they just so happened to be extraordinarily close to the address provided by dispatch. They arrived to find a very cute toddler holding the door open for them.
“It felt like they got here in 30 seconds, but it may have been a minute or two,” says Tajanea Allen, the mother of the baby in distress, Ka’Miyah. “The dispatcher had just said to me, ‘I’m going to direct y’all through CPR,’ but before he even had a chance to do that, Officers DuChaine and Owen were running up to our house.”
Turns out that morning baby Ka’Miyah had woken up in a very lethargic state. “She wouldn’t stay awake or keep her eyes open. Her dad knew something was wrong. His instincts just kicked in. Then she just took a deep breath. That was her last breath,” Tajanea says. They frantically tried calling the local hospital, but it quickly became clear that it would take too long to get through. That’s when they called 911 and the officers took off for their home.
“We ran in and when I saw the baby, I thought it might have been a prank call because she was so small, she looked like a doll,” Officer Owen says. Sure enough, the 1-month-old was a preemie whose original due date was still more than a week away. She weighed just over 4 pounds. Dad handed the baby off to Officer DuChaine. “She was lifeless, she was really gone,” Tajanea says.
Fortunately, the Kansas City Metro Police prepares its officers well with CPR training every year. “We have adult-size manikins and we have manikins for babies, so we’ve actually practiced this scenario numerous times,” Officer DuChaine says. “Once I had the baby in the palm of my hand, I didn’t feel a heartbeat at all. So that’s when I immediately started doing infant chest compressions.”
They wanted to make sure Ka’Miyah absolutely didn’t have anything in her airways. “That was when we could see life start coming back to her,” Officer DuChaine says, noting they got her on her side and checked her airway. “She finally started breathing again, which was a sigh of relief for us.”
Shortly thereafter, EMS arrived on the scene and asked the parents for a car seat to transfer Ka’Miyah to a major children’s hospital. About 2 hours after she arrived, she went into cardiac arrest and ended up in the ICU.
Throughout the day, the officers couldn’t stop thinking about baby Ka’Miyah. “This whole thing got to me because I had a preemie daughter myself, so I knew exactly what those parents were feeling at that point in time. I’ve been in their shoes,” Officer DuChaine says. Eventually they asked their supervisor if they could make a follow-up trip to the hospital and off they went.
That’s where they learned doctors had just diagnosed Ka’Miyah with RSV, a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. She stayed in the hospital for almost a week before making a full recovery and returning home to understandably protective parents.
“I’m very grateful for those officers. Officer DuChaine is a hero,” Tajanea says. “He was one of the first people we allowed to see our daughter after she came home from the hospital. He deserved that.”