2015 | Police & Fire

Bethesda District Police Officer Saves Baby’s Life on I-270

Veteran officer performed emergency CPR after making traffic stop on way home from shift

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Montgomery County Police Officer James Herman, pictured Monday at the Bethesda Station

Aaron Kraut

Updated Tuesday – Montgomery County police Officer James Herman made a traffic stop on I-270 Sunday afternoon, a decision that “put him in the right place at the right time” to save the life of a 9-month-old baby.

Herman, an 11-year veteran and patrol officer in the Bethesda-based 2nd District, was talking to the driver he stopped at about 4:23 p.m. on the left shoulder of northbound I-270, just south of the sign for the Muddy Branch Road exit in Gaithersburg.

Another car pulled up behind Herman’s police cruiser. Herman said a man and a woman got out of the car and began frantically pleading with him for help with the baby girl, who was unresponsive.

“Her eyes were starting to roll back and her face was starting to turn gray or blueish,” Herman said Monday. “It felt like precious seconds are ticking away.”

While holding the baby in his arms, Herman began performing CPR. He said a firefighter from out-of-state—a man who didn’t give his name—soon showed up on the scene to help and found the baby had a faint pulse. The man was later identified as Arkansas firefighter Brody Channell, who was in the area for the National Firefighters Memorial Service that happened just hours earlier.

“You could see almost instantly, her eyes came back. She became attentive to our fingers and she was grabbing our hands,” Herman said. “Then, she started crying and that’s a good thing.”

An ambulance arrived and transported the baby, Kenzlee Mae Cushman, to Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center. Stephen Mann, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service battalion chief who responded to the incident, said Sunday he was told the baby is doing better “and only still alive due to the quick actions of Officer Herman and the unknown civilian who assisted him.”

On Monday, Cushman was recovering at a hospital near her home in West Virginia. She was born with a heart defect, according to her parents.

The woman with the baby identified herself as the child’s grandmother, while Herman said the man appeared to be a family member, though he’s not sure how the two might’ve been related.

Montgomery County police officers receive CPR and other emergency medical training during their time in the police academy and during annual in-service training sessions.

Herman also got medical training as a medic in the military, though he was never deployed and said Sunday’s incident was the first time he ever had to do CPR in the field.

“Hopefully, I never have to again,” Herman said.

Herman, 36, has been based in Bethesda’s 2nd District his entire career with the department. He lives in Frederick County, and was on his way home when he made the traffic stop Sunday afternoon.

“To me, I feel like any one of these other guys who are out there would’ve done the same thing and would’ve gotten the same results,” Herman said. “Us being police officers, we all really have the same personality. We all want the football in the fourth quarter. Not everybody gets that chance. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and got the chance.”

Capt. David Falcinelli, commander of the 2nd District, praised Herman’s efforts.

“He followed his training and his efforts resulted in a positive outcome,” Falcinelli said.