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Officers save 6-month-old baby choking in minivan on Calif. freeway

Published: Jun. 9, 2021 at 1:50 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 1:51 AM EDT
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WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. (KCAL/KCBS) - A California Highway Patrol officer and his partner recount the split-second decisions that saved a 6-month-old baby who was choking on a cherry.

Dash cam video shows the moments May 28 when Officers Casey Ramstead and Jed Cato responded to a 911 call about a choking baby inside a minivan. It had pulled over just past the on-ramp of the 101 Freeway in Woodland Hills, California.

The partners were dispatched to the call because they were very close by and because Ramstead is a licensed paramedic.

“Officer Cato and I jumped out of the car, ran up as far as we could, got to the car and found the mother holding the baby in the backseat,” Ramstead said.

The mother told the officers her 6-month-old baby boy was choking on the skin of a cherry. Ramstead immediately jumped into action.

“I had my hand close to his face, trying to feel any air flow. I was listening to his back to see if I could hear the exchange of air,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cato was doing his part by directing vehicles getting onto the freeway.

“My job was to protect my partner. I knew he was going to be really focused on attending to the child and making sure whatever life-saving measures were taken,” he said.

Ramstead wasn’t hearing the baby breathing, so he started the Heimlich Maneuver for infants. He gave the baby six back slaps to clear his airway.

“On the sixth back blow, where I struck him right between his shoulder blades, I heard a ‘uh.’ Oh, that’s just pure relief. That was just excitement and relief because I knew I did it right,” Ramstead said.

This wasn’t the first time Ramstead has helped someone in distress, but the father of two says saving a baby is close to his heart. He felt the gratitude from the baby’s mom when he handed him back to her.

“I’m blessed that I have a job where I get to go out and affect peoples’ lives every day and hopefully get to keep coming back and doing it more and more,” he said.

The officers waited with the family until Los Angeles City fire paramedics arrived to make sure the infant was OK.

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