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'I'm still trying to process how anyone could've heard this baby - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

'I'm still trying to process how anyone could've heard this baby.' Firefighter recounts rescuing baby from mudslide

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What started out as a call for a structure fire in Montecito turned into a miracle rescue. 

Santa Barbara County Fire Captain Dustin McKibben says he found a baby boy between 18 months and two-years-old off Olive Mill Road near a home on Santa Elena Lane.

The boy was found in a mud-soaked pile of debris early Tuesday morning. It's the same baby Berkeley Johnson says he saw. In fact, McKibben credits Johnson for navigating fire crews through the area, telling them who lived at what home and who might still need to be rescued.

A gas line in the neighborhood was broken, making it extremely hard to hear, but yet, McKibben heard the baby cry.

"We made our way through this mud on a path at about 4 in the morning and heard a baby cry," McKibben said.

That cry was coming from beneath a debris pile that had a car on top of it.

"So I was able to find the baby. It was down a couple feet underneath logs and there was just a small pathway that went down to its face," McKibben said. "Just a miracle."

McKibben then called out to crew members that he had found someone. He and another crew member, Brian Fernandez, were able to pull out the baby. He says the baby was covered in mud and his airways were clogged. McKibben was squeezing mud out of the child's nose.

McKibben says he walked back to the engine with Johnson, at times having to clear the baby's airwaves and perform sternum rubs to regulate its breathing. He then loaded the baby onto an engine. From there, they sped to a staging area at the Vons on Coast Village Road, where an ambulance was waiting. 

"I was able to pass the child off to an AMR unit that was standing by, went in the back of the ambulance with the kid clearing the airway more," McKibben said.

The child was taken to a hospital and McKibben went back on the front lines. He's still processing what he did that morning.

"I'm still trying to process how anyone could've heard this baby," McKibben said.

Authorities have not released the names of the baby's parents or their conditions.

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