BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — A Boulder County 911 dispatcher has been given an award for saving a life after helping the parents of a newborn baby perform CPR over the phone. 

On March 23, dispatcher Rob Schimoler got a call into his line but says the caller hung up. He called back, and the baby’s father answered and explained that the nearly 4-week-old baby, who had been born prematurely, was not breathing.

“He was just feeding and now he’s like, not really breathing at all,” the father said during the 911 call. The father said his son’s chest was not moving. 

“Immediately you’ve got to start a medical call,” Schimoler said. However, the emergency was happening in a remote part of Coal Creek Canyon. 

“I know the geography well enough to know that’s very remote, response times are going to be extended and we need to start getting fire rolling quickly and get into figuring out what we can do for the baby because it’s going to be a longer time before anyone can physically get to help the parents,” he said.

Guiding parents through CPR on a newborn

About 2-and-a-half minutes into the call, Schimoler began to walk the parents through CPR over the phone. 

“I’m going to tell you how to give mouth to mouth. I want you to completely cover the baby’s mouth and nose with your mouth. Blow two puffs of air into the lungs about one second each just enough to make the chest rise with each breath,” he said during the 911 call. 

Almost immediately, the baby makes a small noise but is still not breathing on his own. 

“Listen carefully. I’m going to tell you how to do chest compressions,” Schimoler said during the 911 call. “Place two fingers on the breast bone in the center of the chest, right between the nipples. You’re going to press down about one and a half inches with only your fingers touching the chest. Pump the chest hard and fast 30 times at least twice per second.”

Schimoler counted out loud with the parents during chest compressions, keeping them calm and focused. 

“A lot of it’s the voice. That’s all you have. No one is ever going to see you. You don’t get to interact,” he said. “I can help them but it’s not my emergency, it’s theirs, and if I can stay calm I can be of better service.”

After about 3-and-a-half minutes of active CPR, the baby starts to cry more regularly and louder. His parents also said the baby was regaining color.

“If he’s crying he’s moving air, so what we’ve done so far is working,” Schimoler said. 

After 14 minutes on the call, paramedics arrived. At that point, Schimoler’s job was finished. He hung up the call and went back to work. 

“I’m thinking, OK, we got him breathing again, far better than when we started,” he said. “And get ready for the next one, because there’s gonna be a call in a moment.”

Schimoler said he sometimes wonders how the baby is doing after that difficult day. However, the baby’s parents could not be reached for comment.