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How Rhode Island’s Emergency 911 System Failed Baby Alijah

Barbara and Jessica pose for a portrait in the place in the living room where the incident with Elijah happened, on March 11, 2019, in Warwick, Rhode Island. Photo by Kayana Szymczak for ProPublica

Barbara and Jessica pose for a portrait in the place in the living room where the incident with Elijah happened, on March 11, 2019, in Warwick, Rhode Island. Photo by Kayana Szymczak for ProPublica

Barbara’s son had just gotten out of the shower and gone back downstairs to where his 6-month-old son was napping when she heard a scream. Then came the pounding of feet on the stairs of their home in Warwick, Rhode Island.

Conner handed her Alijah, who was limp.

Barbara tried to stay calm as she carried her grandson into the living room. She’d watched medical shows on TV where they did CPR on babies.

“He’s turning purple!” Barbara shouted as her daughter, Jessica, spoke to a 911 operator. (We’re not using last names at the family’s request to protect their privacy.)

“Do we give him mouth-to-mouth? What do we do?” Jessica, the baby’s aunt, asked the 911 call taker at one point.

She never got a good answer.

Visit The Public’s Radio for the full story. 

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