Officer's CPR guidance over phone saves baby

August 24, 1994|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,Sun Staff Writer

Until yesterday, the man who saved Louann Lowe's baby was just a deep, soothing voice on the phone.

The 17-year-old Highlandtown mother still hasn't met state police Sgt. George Douglass, but she knows he "really knew his stuff."

Fate introduced Ms. Lowe and Sergeant Douglass on Monday when her 1-year-old daughter suddenly stopped breathing. Sergeant Douglass calmed Ms. Lowe over the telephone, gave her a quick cardiopulmonary resuscitation lesson and guided her through the life-saving technique. "I don't even know his name," Ms. Lowe said yesterday. "It was just another voice to me. But I'm very grateful to him because he knew his stuff and helped save my baby's life. I was so helpless and he helped me.

"I would have lost her if it weren't for him and my cousin."

To Sergeant Douglass, a 19-year state police veteran, Ms. Lowe was a "scared and confused" mother who needed help.

Ms. Lowe and her daughter, Crystal, were staying with an aunt in Towson at the time of the incident, which began shortly before noon Monday as Ms. Lowe was changing Crystal's diaper.

"She just started shaking and then became stiff," Ms. Lowe said. "I got up and started screaming because I didn't know what was wrong with her. My cousin [Amanda Hom] came down the stairs and grabbed her, and Crystal just went limp."

Frantic, they called 911. For reasons unknown, the call reached the state police telecommunications center, where operators mostly deal with traffic accidents. From there, Sergeant Douglass took over.

"Our radio operator said she had a hysterical woman screaming on the phone that her daughter was lifeless, limp, didn't have a pulse and was not breathing," said Sergeant Douglass, 45, a duty officer for the telecommunications center. "I tried to calm her down first while the emergency assistance was on their way. Then I asked her if she knew CPR, and she told me she didn't.

"I've performed CPR a lot in the field. But this was the first time over the phone. The main thing I was concerned about was whether or not we'd be able to revive her."

So for the next 15 to 20 minutes, Sergeant Douglass gave instructions to Ms. Hom, who relayed the information to Ms. Lowe. The young women took turns performing CPR until the ambulance arrived.

An ambulance took Crystal to Franklin Square Hospital Center where she was treated and released a few hours later. Doctors believe she suffered a seizure.

As family members gathered around Crystal yesterday at their home on North East Avenue, no one could tell the bubbly, laughing infant had suffered such an ordeal. But Ms. Lowe knew better.

"I would just like to thank him," said Ms. Lowe, who is trying to set up a time to meet Sergeant Douglass. "He saved my baby's life."

Sergeant Douglass also is eager to face his partner in the rescue.

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