They usually play on the computer inside, but being outside that afternoon made the difference between life and possible early death for little baby Isaiah.
Susanna Rohn was holding her 11-week old son in a recliner while watching TV and noticed he fell asleep quicker than usual. His arms and legs turned heavy much too fast, she thought. Then she realized he wasn’t breathing, stood up to grab her phone, knocked it under the chair and began yelling her son’s name.
Rohn thought only to give him one breath, which triggered a slight response, but he stopped breathing again.
“I thought I could wake him up,” Rohn said. “Then I thought I couldn’t. Then I thought my baby was about to die. Then I thought my baby was dead.”
She tried splashing cold water all over his body, but again he didn’t respond.
A cry for help
Rohn ran out of the house, didn’t waste time looking for her phone, and began screaming to the two young boys across the street to call an ambulance.
Rocky Hurt, 9, and Ethan Wilson, 10 saw the woman across the street run from her house and yell, “Someone call 911.”
They ran to the side of the house where Hurt’s grandmother, Pam Black, was doing yard work and told her the news. Black followed her grandson to assist the woman as another neighbor called 911.
The boys thought a robber had entered their neighbor’s house, which scared them, but they went with their instincts and honored the cry for help. After going into Rohn’s house, they saw the baby’s face was white and red and knew that meant his blood cells weren’t getting oxygen.
They learned about blood cells in the Target accelerated program at Sedalia Park Elementary School, they said.
“The lady was breathing into the baby’s mouth, but she wasn’t pressing on his chest,” Black said. “She was running cold water over his face to try to get him to wake up.”
A child’s wisdom
As the boys watched Rohn trying to bring breath back into baby Isaiah, Hurt noticed she wasn’t doing CPR correctly.
“Here, let me show you how,” he said, as he explained that she needed to press down on the baby’s chest, but not with the same pressure for an adult because that would crush the baby’s chest.
Hurt told the first-time mother to put two fingers on the baby’s chest, press down five times, then pinch his nose and give him a few breaths. He wasn’t nervous, he said, because he was positive he knew what to do.
“I just learned it about a month ago at school and never thought I’d need to know it in real life,” Hurt said. “This was the chance to help.”
The boys didn’t touch the baby for fear that they might hurt him, Wilson said, but they gave all the instructions.
“He was coaching me through it and running in and out of the house trying to flag down the ambulance, but I didn’t want this 9-year-old boy to leave my side,” Rohn said.
His grandmother took over as the ambulance watchdog and Hurt and Wilson stayed inside to coach the mother. With their help, Rohn was able to get her baby to start crying, which Hurt told her was a good thing because it meant the baby was breathing.
“If anything had been different, my baby wouldn’t be alive right now,” Rohn said. “If I hadn’t dropped my phone I’d be distracted with it. If my sister’s car had been in her driveway next door, I’d have run over there and maybe she wouldn’t know how to help. If the boy had ignored me and thought I was just a crazy lady, well, I don’t know.”
‘Glad he paid attention in school’
Rohn could only put together one thought while she was trying to revive her baby: “I’m glad he paid attention in school and the public schools aren’t failing us.”
Hurt said he’d been introduced to CPR classes at school in health class. He also learned by watching a show on the Disney Channel, he said.
“He’s a smart kid,” Black said. “He’s interested in things like that. His little mind wanders and learns about what he wants to know.”
Baby Isaiah spent two nights at the hospital where Rohn and Isaiah’s father, Ian Devlin, learned about their baby’s sleep apnea. Both parents took CPR classes over those two days, and the baby is now hooked up to an apnea machine if he’s asleep out of reach of his mother.
Both sets of Isaiah’s grandparents visited Hurt and let him know that had it not been for his help, the baby wouldn’t be alive.
The encounter was the first time the neighbors ever met, but this week Rohn has waited by the boys’ bus stop to greet them in the afternoons, and both boys are regularly visiting baby Isaiah.
“No matter what age you are, you can always help,” Hurt said.