When New Canaan Police Officer Ronald Bentley Jr. arrived at a Forest Street home Jan. 13 to respond to an emergency call, he found the parents of a 4-month-old baby holding their son upside down as the infant looked lifeless.
"He seemed to have trouble breathing, turned white and then, in a matter of seconds, started turning blue," the parents wrote in a letter to New Canaan police.
What the family learned minutes after Bentley arrived, however, was that they were in the hands of a hero.
Bentley applied his medical training skills and saved the baby's life.
"Officer Ronald Bentley Jr.'s quick thinking and actions on the night of Jan. 13, undoubtedly saved the life of that 4-month-old child," New Canaan Police Chief Leon Krolikowski said in a press release. "He remained calm and relied on his training to do what needed to be done despite the high level of stress he was experiencing at the moment."
On Monday, Bentley received the Medical Service Award for his actions.
At about 8:30 p.m. Jan. 13, Kirill Evseev and Olga Dinova had just finished feeding their kids, 4-month-old Mark and 6-year-old Sophie, when Mark "started fussing, crying and quickly starting to turn pale" before turning blue, the couple wrote in the letter to New Canaan police.
Realizing that the situation was serious, they dialed 9-1-1.
The daughter, Sophie, "froze not knowing how she could help as we were frantically trying to get Mark to respond," the parents wrote.
Within a few minutes, Bentley arrived, assessed the situation and took the baby into his arms while giving instructions on how to set up the oxygen tank he brought with him.
He immediately opened the baby's shirt and began rubbing his sternum, but he still wasn't breathing.
Bentley quickly rolled the infant over and began administering back blows, pausing after a moment to see if Mark was still unconscious and not breathing.
He rolled the baby over a second time and applied more back blows, which caused Mark to vomit and dislodge the obstruction in his airway. Mark began breathing again and opened his eyes.
Bentley, who's been with the force for nine years, said he was just trying to do his job.
"I was at the right place at the right time," Bentley said. "I'm very fortunate that my training kicked in and I was able to save that baby's life."
At Norwalk Hospital, where Mark stayed for four nights, he was diagnosed with a milk allergy, Evseev said in an interview Tuesday.
Bentley said the fact that he has a 3-month-old son made him relate to the family even more.
"When I was in there, providing the medical help to the baby, I was thinking of my son, how I don't want that family not to have their son around anymore," Bentley said.
"I was going to do everything in my power to make the baby breathe. I was going to do whatever I had to do to keep him alive."
This is Bentley's second Medical Service Award. The first one was for saving the life of a woman in distress.
When the ambulance arrived to take Mark to the hospital, Bentley carried him to the vehicle and a few minutes later, Mark started smiling at the technicians.
His breathing was stabilized and his face started coloring again.
In the meantime, Bentley came back inside to talk to the family.
"He started comforting everyone," Evseev said Tuesday. "He talked to me, my mother-in-law, my daughter. He started talking to my daughter about his family, and that was very thoughtful."
Evseev said Bentley only left after he made sure everyone was OK. Bentley returned to the house a few days later to check on the baby.
"While the rest of the night seemed like a blur, with doctors, nurses, tests, paperwork and worries," Evseev and his wife wrote in the letter, "those long seconds that seemed like eternities for us, with our baby not breathing and then returning back to life, will never be forgotten along with our hero who saved our son's life -- Officer Bentley."
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