Sandy Springs officer uses experience as a father to help deliver baby

Officer Patrick Burt helped a family deliver their baby after discovering the mother in labor on the side of the road.
Caption
Officer Patrick Burt helped a family deliver their baby after discovering the mother in labor on the side of the road.

Credit: Sandy Springs Police Department

Imagine arriving to work on Monday morning and, before you can even settle in, you get an urgent task: delivering a baby alongside one of Atlanta’s busiest highways.

That was the case for Sandy Springs police Officer Patrick Burt, who pulled over on an interstate access road to check emails at the beginning of his shift Monday. Before he knew it, a driver parked in front of him requested his help. Burt walked to the car with the roar of I-285 in the background and greeted a woman sitting in the passenger seat, but immediately noticed there was an emergency.

“I could tell she was in active labor,” Burt said.

Just minutes later, before any other first responders could arrive, the woman had given birth to a boy and Burt was instinctively checking that the newborn was awake and breathing. Even for a police officer trained to expect the unexpected, it was a Monday morning he and the parents will never forget.

The morning started like any other, Burt told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“I always stop at New Northside (Drive) right there on that little access road. I usually boot my computer up and get ready for the day. I check emails so I’m not doing that while I’m driving that day,” he said.

When Burt pulled over, a sedan was already parked alongside the access road, he said. A man got out of the car in front of him and walked around the back to look into the passenger seat. Seeming a little distressed, the man walked toward Burt’s patrol car and beckoned for the officer.

“I get out of my car thinking maybe he needs directions or something like that,” Burt said.

The man began speaking to Burt, but English was not his first language and there was a communication barrier.

“I was able to understand ‘baby’ and ‘Northside Hospital,’” Burt said.

He still assumed the man just needed directions.

The man continued to gesture for Burt to come alongside the car. As soon as he saw the woman in labor, Burt leaped into action, handing the expectant father his pair of surgical gloves and quickly returning to his patrol car to radio for assistance. Burt grabbed a second pair of gloves for himself and rushed back to help.

“It was like we bent down and the baby was delivered really quickly,” Burt said.

Though he’d never helped deliver a baby before, Burt said he’d been in the delivery room when both of his children were born. The deliveries of his kids, now 7 and 5, are etched in his memory.

“I don’t want to say it’s like riding a bike, but if you’ve seen it once, you’ll never forget it,” Burt said. “I knew the baby was supposed to make some noise and I knew some come out purple-ish but they always pink up. I asked the dad — it’s a boy, obviously — about his name. It’s Noah.”

Burt and the father put Noah on his mother’s chest and covered them with a blanket. Burt said he began rubbing the newborn’s back, calling the baby by his name and patting him until he gave a little cry. Once he was sure the baby was breathing, he went to his patrol car to give dispatch an update. Burt returned to the baby and continued to check his vital signs.

About two minutes later, the ambulance and a firetruck arrived.

Later that day, Burt visited Noah and his parents in the hospital, where he gifted them with a Sandy Springs police K-9 stuffed toy.

“Everybody was doing fine. Mom was good, baby was healthy. Dad wanted to snap a picture,” Burt said. “He sent me some kind words through a text message that he was very grateful for me being there. The text message was very nice; I’ll cherish the words he sent to me.”

Police did not release any further information about the identities of the parents. Because the incident was classified as medical, no police report was filed.

Burt’s supervising officer, Sgt. JP Smith, said his actions were a “prime example” of excellent police work.

“When we put on our uniform and badge every morning, we go into our jobs not knowing what the day will bring us,” Smith said. “For Officer Burt, he was meant to be at the right place at the right time to help this family welcome their beautiful baby into the world.”

This is not the first time Burt has been recognized for going above and beyond in the line of duty. In 2018, he helped track down a developmentally disabled man who had boarded the wrong bus. The man’s parents, who lived in upstate New York, were frantically trying to track down their son and had already begun driving to Atlanta.

Burt said he updated the parents throughout his shift, calling them every couple of hours. He tracked the bus the man had boarded to a MARTA station, where the man transferred buses. With the help of MARTA detectives, the man was located in Milton around 5:30 a.m. after being missing most of the night.

Already off duty and on his way home, Burt turned around and headed to the man’s location to check on him and reassure his parents.

Burt’s actions on that day earned him an official commendation from the Sandy Springs city council.

“I know it’s a cliche to say you get into this line of work to help people, but it’s mostly true,” Burt said. “I love helping people. I’ve done it all my life.”

A member of the Army National Guard who has been deployed on multiple hurricane relief efforts over the past several years, Burt said he believes kindness is part of his duty.

“I hope I don’t have to do it every day,” Burt said about the roadside baby delivery. “But if it has to be done, I’m not going to shy away.”

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