A hero 911 dispatcher in Middletown, Ohio, helped save an 11-month-old baby when the mother called 911, sounding distraught and saying that her baby was choking.
The mother, who wanted to remain anonymous, called 911 mid-day Wednesday when her baby appeared to be unable to breathe while choking on an unknown object.
The call started out like any other: “Middletown 911, where is your emergency?”
The mother was reportedly home alone with the baby at the time of the incident.
“My baby is choking on something,” the woman told the dispatcher.
Rhonda Deaton, the dispatcher on the nearly five-minute call, initially struggled to understand the mother who was panicked and inaudible.
Deaton, however, told the mother to “stop screaming and take a deep breath,” so she can hear the woman’s address and send an ambulance.
“I was very stern with her, but in doing so, she immediately calmed down and was answering my questions and following my instructions,” Deaton told ABC News.
“Stop screaming so that I can assist you,” Deaton said. “Take a deep breath.”
Deaton, who has worked as a Middletown dispatcher for two and a half years, asked for more information so she could understand the situation and figure out how to help.
“Do you see something in its mouth?” Deaton asked on the call.
“No, but her lips are getting purple,” the mother replied.
Deaton proceeded to give step-by-step instructions to the mother on how she could save her baby.
“Turn the baby over on its stomach, hold in your hand, and I want you to thrust on the back of her back,” Deaton said.
Deaton reassured the mother that help was on the way, but also insisted that the only way to save her baby was if she calmed down.
“You’re not gonna be able to save your baby if you’re all distraught yourself,” Deaton explained.
As Deaton continued to instruct the mother, the woman cried, “she’s closing her eyes ma’am, she’s closing her eyes!”
After a little over two and a half minutes, the baby can finally be heard crying over the phone. The object, a small metal ball belonging to the woman’s older child, came out of the baby’s throat, freeing the airway and allowing the baby to breathe again.
Major Andy Warrick, the deputy chief administrator for the Middletown Police Department, told ABC News that there could begin to be damage to a person if they go four minutes without oxygen. In a case like this, it’s hard to know exactly how much time had truly elapsed since the object got lodged in the throat.
Deaton reassured the mother that help was still on the way to examine the baby, but that as long as she’s crying and breathing, she would be all right.
“OK, I’m gonna let you go. You did a great job,” Deaton told the mother when police arrived.
This was Deaton’s first time handling a call of such urgency, she told ABC News.
Dispatchers typically do not get to know the outcomes of the calls they answer because the calls end once emergency responders arrive on the scene, Deaton told ABC News.
“Hearing that baby cry was a huge relief,” she added.
“People are calling me a hero and I don’t see that. I truly was just doing my job,” Deaton said.
The mother declined to comment to ABC News on the incident, but did say that her daughter is “OK and happy as usual.”
We honor you, Rhonda Deaton.