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Off-duty Mountie’s CPR saves baby’s life on the side of the highway on Vancouver Island

Emergency happened on a stretch of the north Island where there was no cellular service
Nanaimo RCMP Const. Denise Laforest, whose roadside CPR saved a baby’s life last week on northern Vancouver Island. (Photo submitted)

An off-duty RCMP officer from Nanaimo was able to save a young life after being waved down on the side of the highway on the north Island last week.

Const. Denise Laforest successfully performed CPR on a 17-month-old girl for several minutes along the Island Highway between Woss and Sayward on Aug. 30, according to a Nanaimo RCMP press release.

Laforest was driving north toward Alert Bay with her two children to meet her husband when she observed a panicked man jump out of a car holding a baby. She pulled a U-turn and stopped, and advised the baby’s father that she knew first aid.

“At that point, he basically threw the baby at me and said she’s choking and can’t breathe,” Laforest said in the release.

She said the child had a “very weak pulse” and the officer tried back blows to dislodge whatever the child might have been choking on.

“To her horror, the child did not respond and the pulse could no longer be found,” noted the release. “She realized at this point that the child may die.”

Laforest started CPR, alternating between mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and finger compressions on the baby’s chest.

After several minutes, the baby started wheezing and once her airway was cleared, started to cry.

“Collectively, it was the most beautiful sound we had ever heard,” Laforest said.

The release noted that “what followed were many heartfelt hugs and tears.” The baby’s parents drove to a clinic in Woss and then to a hospital in Campbell River where the baby was discharged with a clean bill of health that evening.

The family had arrived on Vancouver Island via the ferry from Prince Rupert and had been travelling south when the emergency happened in a cellular dead zone.

“They told Const. Laforest the first thing they plan on doing upon their return home is to enrol in an emergency first aid course,” the release noted.

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