In the seven minutes it took an ambulance crew to arrive at Bernice R. Binnon's Columbia townhouse, Howard County police Officer John McKissick was able to breathe life back into a 15-month-old baby.
"The baby died in my hand. I was caring for the baby and feeding the baby," said Mrs. Binnon, 72, a day-care provider who watched Gregory Williams Jr. cough, go limp and turn blue during lunch.
"Hurry up, hurry up please! the baby's dying! The baby's blue," Mrs. Binnon remembers telling the 911 operator Monday.
Fortunately for Gregory, Officer McKissick had just passed Homespun Lane on Oakland Mills Road when the call for medical assistance came over his radio. He made a U-turn and was there within two minutes.
The officer arrived to find a frantic Mrs. Binnon holding the child, whom she laid on the kitchen table as he entered.
"I think my pulse was probably racing pretty good, but I was unable to find a pulse on the child. It's difficult to find a pulse on children," Officer McKissick said.
Hitting the child on the back failed to help. He turned the child over and breathed into his mouth. On the second try, the baby's chest started to move, he said. After a couple more breaths, Gregory took a labored breath of his own.
It is still unclear what caused the baby to stop breathing, but Officer McKissick believes Gregory had choked on something.
"I'm just glad I happened to be close by," he said. "I think that was the key."
The baby continued to breathe with difficulty as an ambulance crew took him to Howard County General Hospital. He was later transferred to St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore.
"I'm really relieved. If it hadn't been for [Officer McKissick], I probably wouldn't have my son for this day," said Gregory's mother, Ivy Thompson, as she prepared to leave St. Agnes with him yesterday morning.
Ms. Thompson said she's almost sure her son choked on the hot dog pieces added to his meal, a bowl of Oodles of Noodles. "He'll never have another hot dog," she said.
Battalion Chief Donald Howell said the episode demonstrated the value of the county's dual dispatch system that alerts both police officers and rescue units of such emergencies, and the mandated medical training police officers receive.
County police officers must take a first aid course, which includes infant cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and a 16-hour refresher course every three years. It was the first time Officer McKissick, 29, had ever had to use his infant CPR skills since he joined the force 3 1/2 years ago.