Little Milani Walker is full of life, smiling infectiously as her mom and grandmother take turns holding her.
But a month ago, there was no smile when the 13-month-old’s family feared she suddenly died before being revived by Buffalo Police Officer Maurice Foster, according to the baby’s family members.
“She passed. She was gone,” Pamela Cowart said of her granddaughter.
“He brought her back,” she said of Foster.
Cowart and her daughter, Ashanti Scott, Milani’s mother, thanked Foster recently on the floor of the Common Council chambers for saving Milani’s life.
Scott hugged Foster, with tears filling her eyes. She was too overwhelmed to say much more, she told the officer.
Cowart presented Foster with a Bible, as she also thanked Foster.
The officer appeared humbled by the recognition, saying it was only after asking for God’s help that he was able to revive Milani.
Cowart, who lives on Statler Avenue near Schiller Park, later told Milani’s story to The Buffalo News.
Back on March 19, Cowart said, she, her daughter and Milani were at the Willard Pratt Community Center on Pratt Street attending a birthday party for another of Cowart’s grandchildren.
Milani had an ear infection a few weeks earlier, but was otherwise healthy and seemed fine that day, Cowart said. But while sitting on her mother’s lap at the party, Cowart said, Milani first threw up what seemed to be mucous, then went into what seemed like a frozen stare.
It’s not something that had ever happened to Milani before, Cowart said.
Scott, who works as a medical assistant, called out to Cowart, who said she picked Milani up and took her outside for air. Cowart said she also called out for someone to call an ambulance. It was about 5:50 p.m., she said.
Cowart said she tried to revive Milani, but the baby was stiff, and her pulse was fading.
“She wasn’t responding,” Cowart said. “She was fading away.”
Cowart said someone told her that an ambulance was on the way.
But Cowart said she felt it was taking too long for the ambulance to arrive, so she advised her daughter that they should put Milani in the car and drive to the hospital.
They had driven less than a block from the community center, Cowart said, when they spotted a police car at the corner of Spring and Genesee streets.
Cowart said she flagged Foster down. “You have to help,” Cowart said she told the officer.
Foster radioed in for an ambulance, and began performing CPR on Milani, Cowart said.
At first, Milani didn’t respond, but Foster continued working on her.
Finally, Cowart said, Milani blinked her eyes, and they knew she was alive, Cowart said.
Foster was preparing to rush Milani to the hospital when the ambulance arrived, Cowart said.
Rural/Metro Medical Services it never received a call from the Pratt Community Center, but did receive a call from Genesee Street at 6:05 p.m., and arrived at the scene in six minutes, said Jay Smith, Rural/Metro’s division general manager.
Within two minutes of the ambulance arriving, the baby was taken to Buffalo General Hospital, Smith said.
Foster drove to Buffalo General too, and remained there until Milani was stabilized, Cowart said. Rural/Metro then helped transport Milani to Women & Children’s Hospital, Smith said.
Milani was suffering from a staring seizure, Cowart said. The baby was given anti-seizure medication, and kept at Children’s Hospital for a few days, undergoing a string of tests that all came out normal, Cowart said.
The infant, now 14 months old, has been fine ever since, Cowart said. The seizure may have been related to Milani’s previous ear infection, but that’s not definite, Cowart said.
“He saved her,” Cowart said of Foster. “She left but he brought her back. When someone saves a life like that, they should be recognized for doing that. He was a godsend.”
This is not the first time Foster has been credited with helping to save a life.
In October 2014, Foster responded to a domestic dispute on Skillen Street and found a man unconscious on the floor, with blood spurting from a cut on his arm from a shard of glass.
Foster radioed for an ambulance, pulled a tourniquet kit out of his car, and applied pressure to the wound until firefighters and paramedics arrived.
The man’s artery was repaired at the hospital.