(Photo by Valerie Schmalz/Catholic San Francisco)
Officers Steve Gritsch, left, and Matt Cloud are “absolute genuine heroes,” San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said. Gritsch performed lifesaving CPR on a dying newborn Dec. 12 while his partner drove to the hospital.
‘Great Christmas story’: Newborn saved by SFPD officers
December 19th, 2012
By Valerie Schmalz
Quick thinking by two San Francisco police officers, who drove a dying newborn to the hospital in the front seat of their patrol car, is credited with saving the baby’s life.
Officers Steve Gritsch and Matt Cloud are “absolute genuine heroes,” said Police Chief Greg Suhr. “Baby boy Nash is alive today because of the quick thinking of these officers.”
Gritsch performed CPR holding the newborn on his lap in the front seat of the car while his partner drove to San Francisco General Hospital, where an emergency room team was prepped and waiting.
“It was interesting in a small space and we were sliding around pretty good, but it worked out I guess,” said Gritsch, who had been an EMT and firefighter for about four years in the Santa Rosa area before joining the police department. Gritsch is a five year veteran of the police department and Cloud has been a San Francisco police officer for seven years.
“We drove right up front and I kind of sprinted into the hospital and when we put him on the table he was kind of moving around. So I was pretty thrilled about that,” said Gritsch, who when asked, said he did not believe he had a chance of saving the child’s life.
Baby boy Nash was stable and doing well at SF General, police said. His mother, Nneka Nash, 39, faces one felony count of willful cruelty to a child and one misdemeanor count of failure to provide care to a child, said Stephanie Ong Stillman, district attorney spokesman.
The story began Dec. 12 when police got a 2 a.m. call of a bleeding baby at Third and McKinnon streets in the Bayview District, where a woman had handed the baby to a man on the street and disappeared, police said.
“We pulled up – some guy hands me a bloody jacket and it was all closed up and I open it up and there’s a blue baby in there. It wasn’t breathing so I began CPR on him and then we just kind of sprinted for our patrol car and hopped in and he drove,” said Gritsch.
“There was no movement, no screaming, no crying, no puffing of the chest. I didn’t think he was breathing,” said Cloud at a press conference Dec. 17 at the Bayview police station. Cloud watched his partner take the baby to the Muni platform to do CPR. Both men have young children. Gritsch has a child almost 2 and Cloud has a 1½-year-old and a 4-year-old.
“I knew it was possibly going to be 10 or 15 minutes before the baby got to the hospital and I really didn’t think the baby had any kind of chance at point of waiting that long. I knew in my head I wasn’t going to let that baby die on a Muni platform in the middle of the rain,” Cloud said.
Cloud called out his partner’s name, and said, “‘Hey, you want to take him, let’s go.’ His response was, ‘yeah, let’s go,’” Cloud said. “I hopped in the car and we took off and told dispatch if that ambulance catches us we’ll pull over.”
The men “couldn’t have been more quick-thinking,” said Suhr. “The baby had to get to the hospital if the baby was going to make it.”
“It’s a great Christmas story,” said San Francisco Police Commission President Thomas Mazzucco. “They were doing the Lord’s work.”
From December 21, 2012 issue of Catholic San Francisco.