As a teenager, Cardinal Newman High alum Steve Gritsch learned emergency medicine amid his training as a Bennett Valley firefighter.
That know-how, and the young man's character, came in handy early the other morning in San Francisco.
Gritsch is now 27 and an officer of the San Francisco Police Department. He and partner Matt Cloud were on patrol when, in a driving rain, a man holding a bundle waved them over shortly after 2 a.m. at a Bayview District intersection.
The man handed Officer Gritsch a blue and non-breathing newborn boy, wrapped in a jacket or sweatshirt. He said a woman gave birth about 30 minutes earlier, thrust the baby into his arms and walked away.
Officer Gritsch, now a father himself, ran for the cover of a Muni platform and commenced cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.
His partner got on the two-way radio and told a dispatcher the baby might die were they to wait for an ambulance, so and he and Gritsch would head for San Francisco General Hospital with him. If an ambulance could intercept them, fine.
Cloud called to the frantic Gritsch, who hastened to the patrol car while continuing his attempt to revive the 5-pound baby.
The officers roared off for the hospital, the cruiser's tires slipping now and again on the slickened streets. Gritsch cried as he blew air into the tiny soul's lungs and pleaded with him to breathe.
When they arrived at SF General and Gritsch ran into the emergency room and set the baby down, he was moving. Hospital staff took over and soon he breathed on his own.
San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr called Gritsch and Cloud "absolute genuine heroes."