Lockport police Officer Dennis Ivanich holds baby Elizabeth as he poses with the Meyer family. | Frank Vaisvilas/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 8, 2014 6:28AM
Lockport police Officer Dennis Ivanich credits his instincts and his training for helping him save the life of a 4-week-old infant recently.
Ivanich was commended for his action and awarded the department’s Life Saving Medal by Police Chief Terrance Lemming during Wednesday night’s committee of the whole meeting that was attended by more than a dozen officers.
“Being a police officer is a very difficult job and at times it’s a thankless job, but not today,” Lemming said to Ivanich. “Your concern and compassion reflect well upon you as a human being and as an example to all Lockport officers.”
Lockport Officer Ron Smiles also was recognized for his assistance.
Ivanich had been on the east side of Lockport responding to a call for a well-being check on the afternoon of May 29 when he received a call about a child who was not breathing.
“The original call was for a 3-year-old, so I was expecting to see a toddler,” Ivanich said. “It was surreal seeing an infant.”
The baby’s mother, Debbie Meyer, was frantic and performing CPR before Ivanich arrived.
“It’s kind of a blur,” Meyer said. “I was probably freaking out.”
She said she didn’t know if she was performing CPR correctly and was a little relieved when Ivanich came. It only took three minutes for him to come once the call had been made.
“He was there ‘like that,’ it felt like,” Meyer said.
Baby Elizabeth Meyer survived that frightening episode and was rushed to the hospital, where she later was diagnosed with cervical stenosis, which causes compression of the spinal cord.
She had surgery to correct the issue and is doing fine.
The Meyers attended the meeting for Ivanich’s commendation.
For weeks after the incident, Ivanich kept in touch with the family for updates on baby Elizabeth’s condition.
He said she has a friend for life now.
“I try to visit (the Meyers) about once a week if I can,” Ivanich said.