Yesterday I read an online news article titled “Special delivery: EMT delivers baby at Imbler fire station”
, which was written by Correspondent Trish Yerges of the La Grande Observer. According to the article, Jeret and Brittane Johnson of Elgin, Oregon were driving home on July 1 when Brittane began having contractions about four minutes apart.
Although Brittane instinctively knew she was going into labor, she made a decision to stop at a grocery store and buy milk and cereal for her three other kids who were with her in the car. After all, a mother’s work is never done, especially if she is 9 months pregnant and going into labor.
The nearest hospital was in La Grande, which were miles away. After buying her kids milk and cereal at the grocery store, Brittane instructed her husband to drive to her mother’s house where they dropped off their kids and Brittane spent a few minutes eating a peanut butter sandwich because she was hungry. I am sure there's nothing more surprising then a pregnant daughter visiting her mom and having a snack while experiencing labor contractions.
After dropping off her kids and eating a sandwich, Brittane’s mother, Tina Moore, offered to drive her daughter and husband to the hospital in La Grande. Brittane and Jeret accepted the invitation and they all climbed into Moore’s car. Brittane’s kids were left at her mom’s house, but it is unknown if the kids were left alone or if they had a responsible adult watching them.
Moore sped along Highway 82 towards La Grande and somehow managed to avoid being detected by good Samaritan drivers, or patrol cars from the Oregon State Police or the Union County Sheriff’s Office, which closely monitor Highway 82 for speeders and reckless drivers.
By the time Moore was getting close to La Grande, Brittane’s contractions were suddenly 30 seconds apart and she knew they were not going to make it to a hospital in time. Brittane was ready to deliver her child right now and Jeret immediately called 9-1-1 on his cell phone.
Fortunately, Moore had made it as far as the small town of Imbler, but Imbler did not have a hospital. So what did Moore do? She did what any expectant grandmother would instinctively do when her daughter is about to give birth in her car. She chose to pull into the parking lot of a grocery store, which is not the best place to find a medical doctor on a Sunday afternoon.
However, the 9-1-1 dispatcher told Jeret to instruct Moore to drive to the Imbler fire station where trained EMTs could assist Brittane with her delivery. That sounded like a winner to everyone in the car, so Moore drove to the fire station.
Meanwhile, as Moore was making her way to the fire station, a man named Forrest Warren was driving home with his wife. Warren, who is an EMT-Intermediate for the Imbler Rural Fire Protection District, received a call on his cell phone about a woman going into labor at the Imbler fire station.
As luck would have it, Warren was only two minutes away from the station and he immediately turned his vehicle around and sped toward it. After Warren pulled up to the station and jumped out of his vehicle, he noticed Moore had already arrived and Brittane was being assisted by Ryan Denis, a rookie First Responder who had no experience with emergency deliveries.
Denis was being assisted by Paul Diacetis, and Justin Clark, who were also First Responders who had no experience with emergency deliveries. Fortunately, for the First Responders, Warren had recently trained them in how to perform emergency deliveries and Brittane was their first patient. I am sure Brittane felt very honored, and also relieved that she was in professional hands.
Warren immediately assessed the situation and crawled into the backseat of Moore’s car where Brittane was laying on her back, legs spread wide open, and wearing an oversize t-shirt. With an experienced EMT, three First Responders, Jeret and Moore all watching and offering their assistance and advice, Brittane tried to remain calm and focus on her breathing, which was not easy under the circumstances.
It was very hot outside and the backseat of the car probably felt stuffy and overcrowded with people, four of whom were men and total strangers. Again, Brittane tried to remain calm and focused as she began to bear down and push hard. Slowly the head of her baby appeared and then his shoulders. Brittane pushed harder and her baby was finally delivered into Warren’s arms.
Warren immediately cut the umbilical cord and clamped it. He then used an OB kit from the fire station to suction the nose of the newborn and gave it some oxygen. The baby was breathing and everyone felt happy and excited. Brittane was exhausted and probably happier then anyone else, except maybe for her husband.
Austin Robert Johnson was born at 2:19 p.m. and he weighed 4-pounds and 5 ounces. Jeret could not believe that his fourth child was born in the backseat of his mother-in-law’s car at a rural fire station in Imbler. It was a miracle and one of the most amazing experiences of his life.
Shortly after Austin’s birth, the La Grande Fire Department arrived and transported Brittane and Austin to the Grande Rhonde Hospital in La Grande for further medical care and observation.
Although Austin’s birth was quite an adventure for those involved, it is also a reminder of how something so small and precious can pull together a small group of family and strangers and have a positive impact on them.
Someday Brittane will tell Austin about his birth in the backseat of his grandmother’s car and the four strangers at the Imbler fire station who were there to assist and witness what happened.
I am sure Austin will want to meet Warren, Denis, Diacetis and Clark and see where he was born. Until then, I wish Austin, Brittane and Jeret a long life of joy and happiness as a family. Welcome to a new world, Austin!