Buffalo Police Officers Majed Ottman and Colin Keenan had just started their shift July 5 when they learned of the rescue call on their patrol car laptop: A girl, a year and a half old, had just been found floating facedown in a backyard pool on Howlett Street in the Genesee-Moselle neighborhood.
"We dispatched ourselves to it," Keenan said. "We asked radio: 'Can you put us going to that call?' "
They arrived to find a distraught man holding a lifeless little girl in his arms.
The actions the officers took next saved the child's life, said Chief Alphonso Wright, who heads the Ferry-Fillmore District, also known as C District.
The girl wasn't breathing. She had no pulse.
"Let me have her," Ottman said, taking the child from the man and laying her on the ground.
She wore a pink one-piece bathing suit. Her stomach seemed unusually swollen.
Ottman began chest compressions as Keenan went to the girl's frantic mother, trying to get information about the circumstances. She told Keenan the girl had been in the water for as long as three minutes before she was found.
Ottman and Keenan aren't quite rookies, but they've only been on the job for about 2½ years.
Ottman wanted to be a police officer since he was a boy. Officers would stop by his dad's store, the Imperial Market at Bailey and Kensington avenues, and let him get in their police cars. Keenan, too, had always wanted to be a police officer.
They'd both learned CPR and other first aid at the police academy.
"I never thought I'd use it," Ottman said.
Yet here he was, pressing down on the child's chest, trying to get her to breathe.
Ottman noticed that when he pushed down, water trickled out of her mouth. He also saw that her belly was bloated, probably with water.
Then Ottman took "the biggest breath of air I could possibly get in her stomach" and breathed out into her mouth.
Water gushed out.
Ottman quickly maneuvered the child on her side and she started to breathe, then cry, the officers said.
"It was surreal," Ottman said of resuscitating the girl. "I've never given CPR before. You almost believe that it doesn't work, that it's just something you see in the movies. But when you actually see it work, you're like, "Oh, my God!' There's a reason I got certified to do this. I get it now."
Within a couple of minutes, firefighters and EMTs had arrived. They gave the girl oxygen through a mask and then whisked her away in an ambulance to Oishei Children's Hospital.
Ottman and Keenan followed.
"We sat with her for a little bit, just getting some updates on everything," Keenan said.
The girl had taken in water in her lungs so doctors kept her at the hospital for a couple of days, the officers learned.
"I'm so proud of them," said Chief Wright. "That's how our officers are in the district. But they went above and beyond. Because of them, that child is here today."
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