Willard Cop Helps Rescue Baby Born Unexpectedly In Apartment

Steve Purdy, a sergeant with the Willard Police Department, was on a fairly normal shift on Friday, August 12 when a call came in around 11 p.m. about a pregnant woman who worked in apartments near the police station.

“As I was close, I decided to go ahead and head in that direction and see if I could help,” Purdy said.

On driving to the apartment, Purdy said the call was updated to say the mother, Taylor Burt, had given birth to her baby son, Asher Daugherty, but the boy’s condition was not excellent.

“Dispatch advised the baby was not breathing and turning blue,” Purdy said.

When he arrived, Purdy said Asher’s father, Joseph Daugherty, let him in and Purdy saw the mother doing CPR. He said he stepped in and took over, doing “artificial respiration and chest compressions”.

Purdy said Asher’s color was improving but he still wasn’t breathing on his own, so he asked the parents if they had something to suck the debris out of Asher’s airways. Fortunately, Purdy said, the mother did. And once Purdy cleared the airway, Asher started breathing on his own.

“It was very tense for me because, you know, I wanted the baby to be okay and then the mother still needed medical attention herself,” Purdy said. “I’ve performed CPR many times, but never to a baby. I’ve never been part of an unborn baby.”

Once Asher started breathing on his own, firefighters and an ambulance arrived and backup officers were also on the scene.

“It all happened in minutes,” Purdy said. “I was happy when the fire department arrived, of course they have a higher level of training to help people who need medical attention than the police department.”

Mom and baby are doing great today.

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Asked about the incident, Willard Police Chief Tom McClain said it was a once-in-a-lifetime event in his career, adding he couldn’t be more proud of Purdy whom he called “one of my best”.

“I couldn’t be prouder of Sgt. Steve Purdy,” McClain said. “Steve Purdy has made a big difference in the lives of many people during his career, but this one rises to the top.”

Purdy said he appreciated the praise, but was most impressed with the mother, Taylor Burt.

“I’m glad I did the first responder training where I was able to clear the baby’s airway, just the basics of the ABC’s of CPR. I’m glad I got that and was able to help “, Purdy said. “That being said, I think the mother is pretty amazing to deliver her baby alone in her own home.”

Purdy has been an officer at Willard since 2012 and was previously a professional fighter and worked in the food industry. McClain said when he interviewed Purdy he was working as the manager of a Krispy Kreme in Branson.

“He wanted to make a change,” McClain said. “And I asked him why he wanted to be a police officer and he was like, ‘Chief, I just want to be able to make a difference in people’s lives.'”

Purdy said he never imagined he would find himself in this kind of situation, having previously worked in the food industry for 20 years.

“Being a police officer is unlike anything I’ve ever done,” Purdy said. “I’m glad I could, it’s a rich life to be able to help people.”

Overall, Purdy said he was happy everyone was okay.

“It was an overwhelming feeling of joy when Asher started breathing and you could see the family was relieved,” he said. “When the baby started breathing, of course, I handed Asher over to his mother and she held him, and I thought that was a pretty good ending to that incident.”

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Some might call Purdy a hero for his actions, but Purdy said everyone involved that night was heroes.

“I consider the whole Willard team to be heroes. The police department, the fire department, and the Mercy ambulance responding to Willard, all of these people work really well together,” Purdy said. “I think together we are definitely heroes.”

Jordan Meier covers public safety for the Springfield News-Leader. Contact her at [email protected], or on Twitter @Jordan_Meier644.