Chicago Police Officer Therese Puchalski called it a “Wow!” moment.
She and Officer Lucyna Murawski were working overtime at the CTA’s Roosevelt Road station on the Red Line shortly before 7:30 a.m. Nov. 1 when they were notified by a CTA employee that a woman was going into labor.
Within minutes, the officers were assisting in the birth of twin girls, just past the turnstile at the South Loop station.
Tuesday morning, the officers were honored by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. Puchalski is a veteran CPD officer of more than 26 years who works in the Central District, while Murawski, a mother of two, has more than 18 years in the department and works in the Wentworth District.
As the first baby arrived, officers and the CTA employee held up garbage bags to give the mother a little privacy from nosy commuters, including a few who whipped out their cellphones to snap pictures. Puchalski and Murawski swaddled the baby, Ja’miyla, in a scarf and placed her next to her mother. Born at 7:30 a.m., she weighed 4 pounds, 5 ounces.
Within minutes, Chicago Fire Department paramedics arrived and helped deliver Ja’miyla’s sister. Ju’niyla arrived at 7:41 a.m., weighing 4 pounds, 6 ounces.
Ju’niyla showed signs of possible distress, and one of the paramedics tapped the girl’s foot and rubbed her chest, trying to get a healthy response. The baby eventually woke up and the paramedic cut the umbilical cord.
“It happened very fast. It’s not something you really think about, you just do,” said Puchalski. “You see a young woman in distress, getting ready to give birth, and all of a sudden it just happens and you respond.”
Puchalski added that the mother “made it easy” for the first responders.
“I personally felt like she trusted us to do what we needed to do,” she said.
The mother, a woman in her 30s, was alone at the station; she and her newborn daughters were taken by ambulance to Mercy Hospital.
Since then, the babies have been doing fine, authorities said. They were not at Tuesday’s ceremony, and could not be reached for comment.
The officers said they hadn’t been trained for that particular situation.
“You’re called on to do a lot of different things,” Puchalski said. “But not deliver a baby.”