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Macomb Township

March 27, 2013

Passerby, dispatcher become lifesavers for newborn

By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Thanks to the aid of a Good Samaritan and the skill of a Macomb County dispatcher, a baby girl born not breathing is alive today.

Steven Kukuk, who has been a dispatcher for more than five years, coached Ryan Cornelissen, 21, through the steps of performing CPR on the newborn after the Macomb Township resident was flagged down March 16 by a frantic father on the side of Garfield Road near 22 Mile Road.

“I had people try to flag me down before,” Cornelissen said. “It’s usually people just trying to wave me down for a flat tire.”

That morning was different. Cornelissen said the father was in the middle of the road jumping and waving near a vehicle on the side of the street.

“When that happened, I knew something was wrong — more than just a flat tire,” he said.

Inside the vehicle, a mother had just given birth to a premature baby girl who was not breathing.

The father and mother, who Cornelissen said did not speak English very well, can be heard on the 911 call crying out for help as Kukuk tells Cornelissen to start rubbing his fingers along the baby’s back to stimulate breathing.

When that failed, Kukuk instructed Cornelissen to begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Seconds after Cornelissen breathed twice into the baby’s mouth, the girl can be heard making mumbling noises as she begins to breathe.

The infant was treated by the Macomb Township Fire Department and taken to Henry Ford Macomb Hospital, a press release said. Cornelissen, who subsequently met with the family of the baby girl, said she would be hospitalized for the next month.

What the 911 recording doesn’t reveal is the blend of emotions that were simultaneously going through Cornelissen during the ordeal.

“I mean, I told numerous people it was very emotional” he said. “I was scared, nervous and it was something that I never expected to do in my lifetime.”

Despite the emotions, Cornelissen and Kukuk maintained calmness throughout the length of the recording.

Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham called the calm demeanor of Cornelissen “positively remarkable” in a statement and the instructions given by Kukuk “a testament to his training and professionalism.”

Despite his previous training in infant, child and adult CPR from high school, Cornelissen said Kukuk’s ability to calmly walk him through the steps was key.

“He deserves just as much credit as I do,” Cornelissen said. “I’m in the process right now trying to meet him in person. I’m going to thank him over and over again. I don’t think I would have remembered the steps without his help.”

Cornelissen said he met with the family and was overwhelmed by their gratitude.

“They loved seeing me, and they were just so thankful,” he said. “They told me that they wanted me to stay in the baby’s life.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robert Guttersohn at rguttersohn@candgnews.com or at (586)218-5006.