Quick thinking and some luck helped Lacey Police Officer Ken Westphal save a 1-year-old girl’s life last week.
Westphal, a school resource officer assigned to North Thurston Public Schools, was traveling between schools Nov. 17 when he heard dispatchers asking for assistance with a baby that wasn’t breathing. Dispatchers directed him to Quinault Drive, just outside of Lacey, where he found a woman standing in the road with a child in her arms.
“The baby just didn’t look right,” Westphal said. “She was just slumped over the lady’s arm.”
Westphal took the baby and saw that she wasn’t breathing. He began CPR and almost immediately felt the child start breathing again.
“I just started pushing, and on the fifth push I felt a change,” Westphal said. “She became more rigid.”
The baby was still unresponsive when a Lacey Fire District 3 crew arrived. But a Lacey sergeant checked in on the baby and her family a few days later and learned that the 1-year-old girl was recovering. Westphal said Wednesday she had suffered a seizure due to a high fever.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Westphal said.
Lacey Police Chief Dusty Pierpoint said he was proud of Westphal when he first heard the story — it’s rare that a police officer happens to be nearby in these situations.
“Most officers get into this profession because they want to make a difference,” Pierpoint said. “And it’s just a great feeling when you actually get to do that.”
Pierpoint said officers are required to have first aid and CPR training. Supervisors and school resource officers also carry defibrillators in their cars.
This isn’t the first time that Westphal has been lauded as a hero. In 2011, he was credited with saving a teen’s life when she tried to jump from an overpass onto Interstate 5. According to The Olympian’s archives, Westphal grabbed the teen by the back of her pants as she was in midair.