Police heroes describe how they saved baby girl’s life in East Ham

Police officers Stryka Blackwell, left, and Chris Arkley at Forest Gate Police Station.

Police officers Stryka Blackwell, left, and Chris Arkley at Forest Gate Police Station. - Credit: Archant

Two heroic police officers saved a two-week-old baby girl last week - all thanks to their quick-thinking, nerves of steel, and training in first aid.

The Recorder/Advertiser is backing calls by charity St John Ambulance to encourage more people to take advantage of free first aid training to save a neigbour’s life.

All Newham police officers receive first aid training in-house at least once a year to make sure they are up-to-date with the latest developments as administering medical help is an essential part of their job.

It is standard practice for the London Ambulance Service to send calls out to the police in case they are on patrol in the area and can get to the incident a minute or two before them.

Pc Arkley said: “We have to administer first aid quite often but more often than not it’s cuts, assaults, and unfortunately stab wounds.”

Both officers agree that first aid is an invaluable skill that too few possess.

Pc Blackwell said: “When we go to an incident, there’s a lot of people standing around, watching, panicking, waiting for help to arrive.

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“It’s very rare we go to a call and someone’s already doing first aid on somebody.

“If someone’s trained and they know what they’re doing, they could save someone’s life from popping out into the street and administering first aid.”

Pcs Chris Arkley and Stryka Blackwell, two members of Newham police’s first response team, received an emergency call to reports of a baby not breathing while they were on patrol on Green Street on Wednesday April 10.

Pc Blackwell, 33, distinctly remembers the drive to the house on Holland Road, East Ham, and “all the thoughts going round in your head about what to do for a baby.”

Pc Arkley, 27, said: “On route to the call, we did get nervous. It’s not something you deal with every day.

“But as soon as you get there, the professionalism kicks in and you just revert back to your first aid training.”

They arrived to find the mother cradling her two-week old baby girl who was limp and lifeless, with her panicked husband, her two other children, and her mother in the house.

Pc Blackwell said: “We explained that we were here to help and we were going to help the baby so she handed her over straight away.”

The two officers carried the baby into the living room which was a more sterile environment than the hallway and laid the baby on the table as they needed a safe, sturdydesc surface on which to perform CPR.

Pc Blackwell described how he picked the baby up and felt for signs of breathing but there were none.

The baby girl even remained unresponsive when Pc Arkley applied pressure to her shoulders so they removed her baby grow to check for physical signs of injury before starting CPR.

Pc Arkley said: “During the first aid, the mother was very distraught. She was grabbing at us but that’s not a problem because we expect it.

“It was a child of ours, we’d be the same. To see your child, one, unconscious and, two, being treated by men who you don’t know must be pretty shocking.”

They found that the baby’s airway was obstructed by her tongue so supported her head before tapping between her shoulder blades.

She let out a gasp as her airwaves cleared to the “absolute relief” of the officers.

They suspect the baby choked while she was being fed and her tongue fell back when she became unconscious as she came out with “lots of gunk and milk” once she was breathing again.

Paramedics from the London Ambulance Service arrived two and a half minutes after the officers entered the house and took the mother and baby to Newham General Hospital as a precaution.

When they returned two days later, the family received an unexpected visit from Pc Arkley who returned to make sure the baby was OK.

He said: “They’d just got back from hospital and they were all sitting down having dinner and the baby was being held by the five or six-year old sister. They called us heroes, you know!”

The Pcs said they’ve been treated much the same at the station as their heroics were just another example of the important work the force carry out every day.

But Pc Blackwell said he’s had praise from one fan in particular.

“My mum’s always panicking when I’m doing this job. She lives in Devon so I have to phone her every couple of days anyway to tell her I’m alright so it’s nice to be able to tell her a good news story.”