DeKalb County firefighter Robert Sutton may be a hero, but he’s chalking up the quick-thinking move that saved a baby’s life to divine intervention.
On April 18, the Georgia firefighter caught an infant who was tossed from the second floor a burning apartment building, but Sutton told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it was he who was “blessed” in that moment.
“Anybody would’ve done what I did,” the 31-year-old said. “I got lucky. Really, I was blessed.”
Sutton, 31, works 24-hour shifts at the fire department as well as a side job working with an ambulance service. He was filling in for another firefighter when an emergency dispatcher radioed into the station to say that an apartment complex in Decatur was burning, near where Sutton grew up and his father still lives.
“We have a working incident,” the dispatcher said, meaning that the fire was serious, perilous and that the crew needs to be prepared to enter the building.
When Sutton got to the scene, he began to suit up before he saw a screen fall from a window and heard a frantic man calling out.
“I got a baby!” the man screamed more than once, his voice raspy from the smoke.
The father was dangling his 6-month-old daughter out of the window, desperate to get her to safety. Sutton ran toward the building and yelled for the man to drop the child.
The moment he did was caught on camera by a contracted plumber who was doing work at the building next door, ABC News reported. After Sutton caught the baby, he took her to the medical unit to be checked out before hurrying back to the building to help the father climb out the window.
The family escaped without any injures. Sutton later went up to the father and shook his hand.
Sutton had never anticipated being in this type of situation. There is no throwing of babies simulated in firefighter training in DeKalb County.
It was just another day on the job. When Sutton got off work on Wednesday, he headed to his second job at the ambulance service, not realizing the media attention that was about to flood in.
Sutton had regaled the story to his wife, Martika Sutton, but didn’t think much of it after that – until he got a call from one of his superiors at the station saying that a local news station was interested in talking to him.
Days later, Sutton had appeared on national and even international news outlets.
Still, Sutton, who has been a firefighter for 10 years, doesn’t think of himself as a hero.
“It’s a term that firefighters and officers alike don’t hold onto or acknowledge, but it was heroic,” Captain Eric Jackson, the department’s public information officer, told ABC News. “For a firefighter to be where he was and be keenly aware … when the gentleman dropped the baby, he dropped him right into his arms.”
Sutton has been “very humble” since the incident, Captain Tom Burrell told ABC News.
“As a father of two children himself, I think anybody can understand that if that opportunity occurred, he could see himself in that man’s shoes.”
“It feels like I’m a celebrity or something,” he said, chuckling.
All of the attention didn’t stop him from going into work on Friday, as usual. He still credits the amazing catch to being “in the right place at the right time.”
“If I could save a baby every day, I would,” he said, reiterating the word “blessed.”
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