Rescue Lines – Spring 2017 – “Thanks to you, my baby wasn’t born in a parking lot.”

IMG_0083Virginia Beach resident Traci Wagner was pregnant with her third child. Her first two children, both boys, had been delivered by induction and C-section, so she and her husband Nick were patiently awaiting another C-section scheduled for the following week… but this baby had different plans.

“We were watching TV one night, and I felt some pressure,” Traci says. “I’d never experienced natural labor before, so I wasn’t sure if this was a sign. Then, it quickly got more and more intense.”

After arranging for neighbors to watch their son, who was asleep (the eldest was away for the night), Traci and Nick left for Sentara Princess Anne Hospital, about a 25-minute drive. They drove a few miles and then called 9-1-1, but decided to keep going.

“In less than a mile, I told my husband he needed to pull over and call 9-1-1 again,” says Traci. “I knew this baby was coming fast.”

IMG_0424Nick reached the same dispatcher who answered the first call, Brant Schultheis, who is also a member of the Ocean Park Volunteer Rescue Squad. Brant calmly gathered the information he needed to dispatch fire and rescue, and then instructed Nick, understandably getting anxious, on how to look for signs of the baby coming and what to do if that happened.

Fire arrived, and then EMS Zone Paramedic Tom Benadum, finding Traci in active labor in the back of her minivan. Not too far behind were Stephanie McKinney and Karen Cassidy in a Station 14 ambulance.

Tom managed patient care in the back of the ambulance while Stephanie drove and Karen followed in the Zone Car. Nick Wagner followed the caravan of vehicles, feeling nervous to leave his wife but knowing she was in good hands. Aware the baby could come at any time, Tom had all the birthing equipment ready, and Stephanie was prepared to pull over and assist with a delivery if necessary.

“When we arrived at the hospital, they were ready for us,” says Traci. “They rushed me straight to labor and delivery, where a team was lined up in scrubs. But I still kept thinking, ‘I’m not going to make it. This baby is coming now.’”

With Tom as lead Paramedic on the call, he administered care while Stephanie managed Traci’s well-being, reminding her to breathe and keeping her calm. “A big part of our job is the personal aspect of caring for our patients,” says Stephanie, “and in this situation, I had to keep Traci calm, so her baby wouldn’t be in distress.”

At the foot of the stretcher, Stephanie alerted the team to stop as they were transporting Traci to a birthing room. “I could see the baby’s head. We didn’t even have time to put Traci in a bed. After one push, the baby was here. And I was honored to get to announce ‘It’s a GIRL!’”

Seconds later, Nick Wagner and EMS volunteer Karen Cassidy entered the room, bewildered they had already missed the delivery while parking their cars.

IMG_0156Traci, who was told she would never have a second, much less third child, was praying for a baby girl, so although the delivery was “quite an adventure,” it was also a dream come true.

Older brothers Gage (11) and Caleb (4.5) adore their new baby sister, Layla Grace, born on February 26, 2017. Three days later, Traci posted a message to the Va. Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad’s Facebook page: “Thank you to VBVRS for getting me to the hospital just in time. Miss Layla was not born in a parking lot thanks to you guys.”

As for VBVRS volunteers Stephanie McKinney and Karen Cassidy, they are proud to be wearing the stork pins they earned on the call and grateful to have been a part of Layla’s birth.