HEROES Gardai Edel Dugdale and Grace Murray summoned all their training and coolness under pressure when a distraught mother arrived at Trim station with a baby that appeared lifeless
Community Garda Edel Dugdale said she has been "overwhelmed" by all the messages she and colleague Garda Grace Murray have received since news broke about their role in saving the life of a three-month baby girl who was brought to the station in an unresponsive state in the arms of her mother just before Christmas.
Garda Dugdale recalled how they tried to stay calm even though they knew how serious the situation was and said she will never forget how cold the baby's skin felt when she took her from her mother.
Garda Murray rushed to call 999 while Garda Dugdale tried to massage the baby's chest and while initially she was still unresponsive, her eyes then flickered open and they did their best to keep her awake and alert until paramedics arrived.
The incident unfolded on the evening of 22nd December when two gardai were on duty in the public office and saw a boy walk into the station on the monitor, followed by his mother.
"The monitor is small so I couldn’t see a lot but I could see she was holding something and I said to Grace I think she’s holding a baby," said Garda Dugdale.
"We both ran out to the lady. She was distraught. She kept saying my baby is not breathing, her lips are blue. I thought 'Oh my God' and my heart sank but this is what we are trained for and instinct kicked in and I grabbed the baby off the mother.
"I told Grace to ring 999 and I brought the family into the interview room away from the public office. I was trying to talk to the mam to see what has happened but she was so upset it was hard to get conversation from her. She had run for about two to three minutes to get to the station so she was out of breath as well.
"I looked down and there was a tiny doll like baby. The baby was so cold to touch, it was ice cold. I will never forget the feeling of her skin. The mam tried to explain to me what happened in broken English. I think she was trying to say that she may have choked on her milk and couldn't get her breath.
"I couldn’t rouse the baby. I couldn’t get to wake her. There was no movement from her. Because she was so small and fragile- she was only three months and seemed even younger- I was afraid that the compressions with two fingers would be much.
"So I got my hands into a clenched fist and started rubbing on her chest to see if I could get a reaction but nothing was happening. I got the palm of my hand and pushed down a bit on her chest and by the grace of God her eyes flicked open.
"I thought I was going to burst out crying but I thought I have to keep it together. Even though she flickered her eyes we knew we weren't out of the woods here yet."
Garda Dugdale told how a paramedic stayed on the phone to them while they waited for paramedics to arrive at the station and she told them to try to keep the baby awake and keep her alert.
"She was still in my arms and I could see her little chest raise a little and I knew there was a pulse but she was still so unresponsive. There wasn’t a budge out of her. You know the way a newborn would make little movements or sounds but there wasn't an ounce of anything.
"There wasn't a cry or a wail. It was eerily quiet. I was rocking her from side to side and her eyes would flicker open but they were rolling in her head. I knew she wasn’t here with us. The lights in the garda station are so bright and you can't turn them down so we were trying to protect her eyes with Grace standing over me and rubbing her hands and feet.
"You knew she really wanted to drift off somewhere and I knew I couldn’t let her. It wasn’t into asleep she was looking to drift, it would’ve been back into an unconscious state. Her temperature kept spiking as well and we checked her body to make sure it wasn't menningitis or that there were no spots or bites."
After 25-30 minutes, the first responder paramedic came and the ambulance came a few minutes after.
"I’ll be forever grateful to the paramedic on the phone. She didn’t have to say a whole lot but we knew she was there."
Once the baby's vitals were checked she went in the ambulance and Garda Dugdale recalled the paramedic asking if she was ok, that what happened was very traumatic. At the time they went back to work but it was only later that it hit them how frightening it had all been.
After Christmas, the mother and the older boy came to the station with a card to thank the Gardai. Garda Dugdale told how the baby's brother had drawn two pictures and had written on the card that he wanted to be a Garda when he grows up after seeing how they saved his sister's life. "It was really emotional," she said.
They hadn't really thought about what happened much since then until it went out on the Garda Siochana Facebook page and the media, and Garda Dugale said they were so overwhelmed by the messages and phone calls and emails to the station congratulating them.
"It was really nice but I feel a bit of an imposter. We were just doing our job. You hope you'll never need it but you do get great training in Templemore." Garda Dugdale said she was extremely grateful it had the outcome it did and also paid tribute to the baby's mother for her quick thinking to bring the baby to the station."
"We are here to help people, people don' t really think about the Garda station as somewhere they can go for help. I guarantee that any of the gardai in the station would’ve done the same thing. We were just in the right place at the right time."