When New Canaan Police Officer Ronald Bentley Jr. saved the life of a 4-month-old boy in January, he said he was just doing his job. But Bentley did so quickly, without any special equipment and he only left the scene after he was sure the whole family was OK.
Because of his actions, Bentley has been named an American Red Cross Hero in the award's Life Saving category. The award will be presented at the Connecticut chapter's annual Red Cross Heroes Breakfast at the Trumbull Marriott hotel Friday, May 9.
Bentley saved the boy's life on Jan. 13 after he was dispatched to a Forest Street home and found the parents holding their son upside down as the infant looked lifeless. In a matter of minutes, Bentley applied his medical training skills and saved the baby's life.
American Red Cross spokesman Paul Shipman said Bentley, like many other first responders, believes he was only doing his job when he actually made a huge difference in that family's life. Besides, Shipman said, Bentley kept checking on the family to make sure they were OK even after the baby was safe.
"The quick response, the skill and the compassion that officer Bentley displayed in that response," Shipman said, "that's the kind of above and beyond service that we look for in this kind of award category."
When Bentley arrived at the house that night, he saw Kirill Evseev and Olga Dinova trying to revive their son, Mark, who was having trouble breathing and was turning blue.
Bentley immediately began examining the child to see if a CPR would work. In the meantime, he was able to give the parents instructions on how to set up an automated external defibrillator and an oxygen tank he had brought with him.
Bentley opened Mark's shirt and began rubbing his sternum, but the baby still wouldn't breath. So the officer 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. Without the need for any equipment, Mark began breathing again and opened his eyes.
What made the situation even more special was the fact that Bentley has a 6-month-old son.
"It hits home because I have a baby boy," he said. "I didn't want this family to grow up not having their baby in their lives. I'd do everything in my power to save that baby."
Though he doesn't like the spotlight, Bentley, who's been with the force for nine years, said he's "very honored" to be named a Red Cross hero.
"I'm kind of a humble guy," he said. "I don't like all this attention, but it's pretty neat to get recognized for doing my job."
Bentley said the award is "one of the higher honors" he has received. The officer has received two Medical Service Awards from the New Canaan Police Department, one for saving the baby and one for saving the life of a woman in distress.
New Canaan Police Chief Leon Krolikowski said he's "very proud of him" for remaining calm despite the high level of stress he was experiencing at the moment.
"He was the right guy to be there, with the right training, took the right actions and saved the baby's life," Krolikowski said.
In 2006, New Canaan Sgt. Kevin Casey received the same award after he saved the life of his father-in-law, who was having a heart attack.
"It's pretty exceptional," Krolikowski said. "Whenever a New Canaan officer saves someone's life is something to be very proud of."
When the ambulance arrived to take Mark to the hospital, Bentley carried him to the vehicle and came back inside to talk to the family.
"He started comforting everyone," Evseev said in January. "He talked to me, my mother-in-law, my daughter. He started talking to my daughter about his family, and that was very thoughtful."
Mark, who stayed at Norwalk Hospital for four nights, was diagnosed with a milk allergy, according to Evseev. Bentley returned to the house a few days later to check on him.
Shipman said he hopes the award helps remind people of "the incredible service that we're fortunate to receive" from first responders everywhere.
"I'm sure that he'd say he was only doing his job," Shipman said. "It is a first responder's job, but to see someone so compassionately deliver the service in such an important situation, we certainly believe that it's worth honoring him for that."
The Life Saving Award is one of three given in the state and the only one in southwestern Connecticut.
Months before the official hero recognition, Mark's family already had called Bentley a hero in a letter to the Police Department.
"While the rest of the night seemed like a blur, with doctors, nurses, tests, paperwork and worries," Evseev and his wife wrote in the January 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."
Tickets for the event are available at redcross.org/ct
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