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September 23, 2023


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Willard police officer saves newborn baby struggling to breathe after unexpected delivery

Willard police officer saves newborn baby struggling to breathe after unexpected delivery

Dreamstime.com/Inara Prusakova

A police officer in Willard, Missouri, is being hailed as a hero after saving a newborn baby who was not breathing during an unexpected home birth.

Sergeant Steve Purdy with the Willard Police Department was on a routine shift when he received a call about a pregnant woman in labor at her apartment near the station.

“Since I was close, I decided to go ahead and head that way and see if I could help,” Purdy said.

While driving to the apartment, Purdy was notified that the mother, Tayllor Burt, had given birth to the baby, but it was not breathing.

“Dispatch notified that the baby wasn’t breathing and that the baby was turning blue,” Purdy said. 

Purdy immediately took over CPR from the mother and began administrating “rescue breathing and chest compressions.”

The sergeant recalled that the baby — named Asher — began to regain color but was still not breathing on his own.

Purdy then asked the parents if they had a tool that could suction debris out of the baby’s airway. Thankfully, they did. Purdy soon cleared Asher’s airway, and the infant began to breathe normally.

Remarkably, this was Purdy’s first time being involved in a birth. However, it’s something a police officer rarely encounters on the job.

“It was very tense for me because, you know, I wanted the baby to be OK, and then the mother still needed medical care herself,” Purdy said. “I’ve given CPR several times but never to an infant. I’ve never been part of a baby being born.”

By the time the boy started to breathe again, firefighters and an ambulance arrived on the scene and took over within minutes.

“All of that happened in a matter of minutes,” Purdy recalled. “I was happy when the fire department arrived, they have a higher level of training, of course, on helping folks that need medical care than the police department does.” 

Asher’s father, Ray Daugherty, admired Purdy’s calm demeanor.

“Thank God that he was there,” Daugherty said. “Because he just completely made me feel like my baby was being taken care of, and not just him, the whole police department really.” 

Daugherty said the baby was scheduled to be induced two days later, but that his wife began experiencing contractions earlier than expected and gave birth after only 30 minutes of labor in their apartment bathroom.

“He did not want to wait until the 23rd,” Daugherty joked.

Willard Police Chief Tom McClain was proud of Purdy, calling the officer “one of my best.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of Sergeant Steve Purdy,” the chief added. “Steve Purdy has made a grand difference in a lot of peoples’ lives over his career, but this one kind of rises to the top.” 

Purdy, who joined the department back in 2012, said he was most impressed with the mother’s actions.

“I’m glad I had the first responder training where I was able to clear the baby’s airways, just the basics of the ABCs of CPR. I’m glad I had that and was able to help,” Purdy said. “That being said, I think the mother is pretty amazing delivering her baby by herself in her own home.” 

Purdy worked as a manager at a Krispy Kreme donut shop in Branson prior to becoming a police officer.

“He was wanting to make a change,” McClain said. “And I asked him why he wanted to be a police officer, and he said, ‘Chief, I just want to be in a position to make a difference in peoples’ lives.’” 

Now, Purdy is doing just that.

“I think of the whole Willard team as heroes. The police department, the fire department and the Mercy ambulance that responds to Willard, all these people work together really well,” Purdy said. “I think together we’re definitely heroes.

Baby Asher is now three weeks old and is in good health, thanks in part to Purdy’s actions.

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