They’re miracle men

Published: August 15, 2007 | 6585th good news item since 2003

They checked hampers, even the microwave and the freezer.

As minutes ticked by like hours, the five firefighters and two paramedics couldn’t find any trace of a baby believed to have been delivered not long ago in the West Side three-flat.

“You play hide-and-seek as a child but you never think it would be like this,” said one of the paramedics, Angelo Tsokolas. “I just kept thinking, where can you hide a baby?”

Finally, 15 minutes into the Wednesday night search, firefighter Christopher Tolbert opened yet another closet, tossed clothes aside and started going through plastic bags. He picked up a knotted black trash bag, ripped it open and caught a glimpse of an umbilical cord.

“I was shocked to see that, and I turned it over to the paramedics.”

Paramedic Gregg Bagdade immediately reached into the bag and saw a baby boy, purple but warm, lying on a towel.

Bagdade laid the baby on the bed and saw he wasn’t breathing. So he scooped the boy up and, while walking downstairs to the ambulance, breathed into the baby’s mouth until the boy opened his dark brown eyes and began to turn pink and cry.

“I was pretty confident once we turned him over that he would make it,” said Bagdade, who has an 11-month-old son.

“The baby opened his eyes, peeked around, and that’s when I noticed that he had a good head of dark hair,” Tsokolas added.

The baby was whisked to a hospital, where officials said he was doing fine Thursday night.

Bagdade said his colleagues “do miraculous things every day. This is just one such thing.”

Authorities believe a 23-year-old woman gave birth to the boy Wednesday evening, just hours earlier, in her home in the 4900 block of West Cortez. The woman’s mother came home, found her daughter bleeding and called for an ambulance. She apparently did not know her daughter had been pregnant.

An examination at Mount Sinai Hospital determined the daughter had given birth. “She refused to tell what she had done with the baby or it it was born alive,” said Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford.

A crew was sent back to the home to look for the baby. Fire officials believe there was enough air left in the knotted bag to allow the baby to survive.

“His color and condition indicated that he would have been dead in a very short time,” Langford said.

The woman and her mother were being questioned Thursday night.

Neighbors on Cortez said the woman has two other young children and lived with her mother. “She was an average, normal young lady,” said neighbor Tony Stewart, 48.

“This was really tragic,” said another neighbor, Rudolph Griffin, 28. “I hope God is with her. And I give them all my blessings.”

Published in Rescues
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