Moments after Adeline Foryoung awoke to screams on the morning of March 30, she was launched in a situation no one ever expects to be in.
Standing in the upstairs hallway of the Laurel home, located in the 14600 block of Tally Rand Trail, that she shares with her brother Chi Neh-lum and his wife Judith Ngie, Foryoung found herself holding the lifeless body of her one-year-old niece, Emma Ndole, who Ngie found in her crib, not breathing, just minutes before.
"All I knew is I was holding a dead baby," said the 33-year-old Foryoung last week at a media event held at the Laurel Police Department, when the family reunited with the Laurel police officer they credit with having helped save the toddler's life. "When I grabbed her from her mother, she was gone."
Emma, who had just turned 1 on March 24, is expected to make a full recovery after being treated at Children's National Medical Center in Washington.
According to city spokeswoman Audrey Barnes, Emma's cardiac arrest was attributed to a known condition regarding her adenoids and tonsils. Emma underwent successful surgery on Monday, and is expected to be released this week.
Her survival is credited to efforts by Foryoung; Neh-lum, the baby's father; and Laurel police Sergeant Sgt. Donald Winstead.
Foryoung, a nurse who lives at the home, and Winstead performed life-saving CPR. According to Foryoung, she performed a couple rounds of compressions and breaths before Emma jolted back to life, gasping for air. It was around that time that both she and Neh-lum recall Winstead, along with fellow officers Carl Johnson and Eric Saleniecks, arriving at the house.
"When I arrived on the scene, mom came out of the house and ran toward me and was screaming 'My baby is dead,' " said Winstead. "So I ran in on the top of the steps and I saw Emma's aunt performing CPR on her and someone was on the phone with the 911 call taker. So I just immediately helped do compressions as the aunt continued to giver her breaths."
Neh-lum, 34, recalls talking on the phone with the 911 operator when he saw Winstead appear from seemingly out of nowhere.
"I don't how swift he was, the guy, he was like Superman. He took two steps and he was already upstairs with us," Neh-lum said.
Winstead and Foryoung continued to apply CPR to Emma in tandem while Neh-lum remained on the phone with the operator. Moments later, an EMS unit arrived, and Winstead picked up Emma and whisked her into the ambulance headed for Laurel Regional Hospital.
The next time Foryoung and Neh-lum would cross paths with Winstead and the officers was on April 4, where they shared their story with the media, with the family expressing their gratitude. Emma, who was still in the hospital, and her mother couldn't attend the reunion.
"I want to thank them so much for the courage, encouragement and support," said Foryoung. "I will say job well done."
Neh-lum echoed Foryoung and said he will never forget Winstead's face.
Winstead, speaking on behalf of Johnson and Saleniecks, said the real credit should be given to Foryoung and the 911 operator.
"The quicker [you perform CPR], the better," he said. "You want to keep the blood flowing and keep oxygen to the brain. I think that was the most important thing."
Laurel Police Chief Richard McLaughlin agreed with Winstead on the importance of CPR, and said the event highlights the importance of being prepared.
"I think the testimony today is a true testament to the chain of survival, and it starts with the civilian," said McLaughlin. "CPR works and saves lives. ... If you care about people, if you have children, if you have family members, learn CPR. You have the opportunity and the will power to save a life."
Laurel Mayor Craig Moe, who was also at the reunion of family and police officers last week, thanked the officers and stressed the importance of being prepared for emergencies.
"Whether at the workplace or at home, you need to be prepared to handle a life-saving incident," Moe said. "It may arise at any time, anywhere."
Moe highlighted the city's recent deployment of 100 Automated Electronic Defibrillators, or AEDs, which were donated to the city and have been placed in all police cars, select city vehicles, all city buildings and other strategic points in the city.
An AED, although it wasn't needed in this instance, can shock cardiac arrhythmia back into a person suffering from cardiac arrest.