Dottie Barnes

Quick-acting neighbour saves baby

Placed the infant on his side on a blanket on the floor and used her fingers to check if his airway was blocked

A local woman was credited with helping save the life of a neighbour’s infant after he stopped breathing last Wednesday evening.

Dorothy “Dottie” Barnes was watching television with family between 8-9 p.m. when she was startled by loud knocking at the door of her apartment in the Robron complex. She opened the door to find Ashley Chickite, her neighbour and co-worker at the Campbell River Wal-Mart, holding her one-year-old son, Erny Jr.

“He was stiff in her arms and his face was all blue,” said Barnes. “I grabbed him because she was gesturing at me to take him, and I yelled at my son to call 9-1-1.”

Chickite said her son had been playing in his saucer when she turned away for a few moments. When she turned back, he appeared to have stopped breathing.

“I blew in his mouth to see if he would respond,” she said. “He (gasped) once, but just kept shaking.”

Having seen Barnes’ van was parked in front of her neighbour’s apartment, Ashley raced over to the door of the woman her children know as “Auntie”.

“I just figured she’d be able to help me,” said Chickite. “With her having kids that are older than mine.”

Barnes, who had first aid training from a previous job at a day-care centre in Alert Bay, placed the infant on his side on a blanket on the floor and used her fingers to check if his airway was blocked.

“I was quite concerned,” Barnes said of her initial reaction. “I thought, my goodness, is this baby gone? I was trying to stay calm, laying on the floor with him, rubbing his back and trying to clear his mouth.”

Barnes initially thought the baby was choking on an object. But when she checked, she found “a foaming stuff coming out of his mouth.”

She told Chickite to talk to Erny, “so he could hear her voice,” and after about five minutes the colour started coming back into his face and he appeared to be breathing normally.

“I was relieved,” said Chickite. “I thought I was gonna lose him.”

A short time later, members from Campbell River Fire Rescue arrived, followed shortly by BC Ambulance paramedics.

Ashley and Erny were both taken to hospital, where he was treated and later released.

“If it weren’t for you my baby Erny Victor may not be here,” Chickite wrote to Barnes in a Facebook message. “You’re his angel and I am so thankful you were home.”

Chickite said paramedics and firefighters told her they believed her son had a seizure, but the doctor at the hospital told her it was likely the result of his holding his breath in an emotional temper tantrum.

“Ashley said the ambulance attendant said if she hadn’t taken him somewhere for help, it might have had a different outcome,” Barnes said.