- Associated Press - Friday, September 11, 2015

GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) - Cassie Newcomb of Southside visited a friend in Jacksonville on Tuesday morning and decided to stop at the post office there to mail a package.

It was a decision that might have made all the difference for the first-time mom.

She took 7-week-old Rowen inside in her carrier, and after dealing with the delivery, she put the carrier down as she put away her wallet.

A man behind her said, “I think there’s something wrong with your baby,” Newcomb recalled, and she looked down to see her child in distress.

“Her face was red, her eyes were wide,” she said. “I could tell she was trying to breathe, but she just couldn’t.”

Meanwhile, Postmaster Kayla Coffman, 52, of Hokes Bluff, had heard the baby on the other side of the counter.

“I said, ‘That sounds like a little bitty baby,’” Coffman said. Then she heard someone say the baby wasn’t breathing. She ran out and took the baby from her mother’s arms.

Newcomb said she had panicked. She’d had the baby up, trying to pat her back and help her breathe, but it wasn’t working.

“She took the baby from me and started hitting her on the back and trying to clear her airway,” Newcomb said. “I was thinking, ‘Who is this person?,’ but she told me she was a paramedic.

“She was able to get (Rowen’s) airway open. I heard her cry.”

Coffman said she tried turning the child over and hitting her back, then asked the mom if she had a bulb syringe. She got that syringe, and Coffman said she was able to use it to suction the baby’s nose and mouth.

“I just love babies,” Coffman said. “I just had to do something. That baby wasn’t going to die on my watch.”

In addition to her years with the postal service, Coffman spent 12 years working as a paramedic. She said her experience and instinct probably helped her remain calm as she helped the baby and mom, and to know what to do.

Rowen went to Jacksonville Hospital and was checked out, then went to the doctor for a check-up. Newcomb said she’s fine; she had a lung infection and it’s believed drainage and mucus blocked her airway, causing Tuesday’s crisis.

Both Coffman and Newcomb, a teacher at Westbrook Christian School who has been on leave since having her baby, believe the hand of a higher power was involved in bringing them together.

“I just think it was just God’s plan that I stop there,” Newcomb said, and that someone who knew what to do to help Rowen and was willing to do it was there.

Newcomb and her husband, Lloyd, are grateful that Coffman was there. Thanks to her, Newcomb said, her baby is alive to see whatever the future holds.

“I think God’s got big things in store for this little girl,” she said.


Information from: The Gadsden Times, https://www.gadsdentimes.com

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