A baby is alive today because of the bravery of one Macomb Township resident and the professional calm of a 911 dispatcher.
Macomb Township's Ryan Cornelissen and 911 dispatcher Steven Kuluk worked together last weekend to resuscitate a pre-mature baby born on the side of the road while her parents were on their way to the hospital.
According to a report from the Macomb County Sheriff's Office, the 21-year-old Cornelissen was driving down Garfield Road, near 22 Mile, around 10:45 a.m. on March 16 when he noticed a "hysterical" man flagging him down on the side of the road.
Cornelissen, who's studying criminal justice to become a police officer at Macomb Community College, said stopping was just the right thing to do.
"He didn't seem like he had a flat tire or he was pulling one on me," Cornelissen said. "He was in the middle of the road."
When he stopped, Cornelissen said he found the woman in the front seat of the car, holding what appeared to be a lifeless baby. The pair had been on their way to the hospital when the woman ended up giving birth in the car. Cornelissen told Kuluk — the dispatcher who picked up the phone — that the baby was not breathing.
During the next few minutes, Kuluk, a five-year veteran with the sheriff's office, coached Cornelissen on checking the baby's vital signs and giving the baby CPR on the side of the road.
What seemed like endless minutes later, Cornelissen told Kuluk that the baby had started moving, whimpering and breathing on its own. Police and rescue personnel arrived shortly afterward.
Cornelissen said he had been CPR certified for a few years now, and was even trained to treat children since, he said, his high school was attached to a preschool. However, no amount of training could have prepared him for the stress of that moment by the side of the road.
"There were a million things running through my head," he said. "I wish I could just meet that dispatcher because he was the one who was so calm."
According to a report from the Sheriff's Office, the infant was then treated by the Macomb Township Fire Department and transported to the Henry Ford Macomb Hospital. The baby girl, named Kiera, are still in the hospital. Her family is also from Macomb Township.
Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said Cornelissen's demeanor during the incident was "positively remarkable" while Kuluk's instructions were a testament to his training and profession.
"You did a good job," Kuluk tells Cornelissen at the end of the 911 call.
On Friday, Cornelissen met with Kiera's parents and said while she'll be in the hospital for a few more weeks, she and her parents are doing a lot better. A little overwhelmed by all the praise and thanks he's received, Cornelissen said helping people is just what he wants to do for the rest of his life.
"I didn't need any recognition," he said. "I'm going into a field where I help people, so I thought what I did was right."