Special delivery: EMT delivers baby at Imbler fire station

By By Trish Yerges Observer Correspondent July 30, 2012 01:47 pm

 IMBLER — The Imbler fire station sees plenty of action during the year, but none more positive than the emergency delivery of Austin Johnson, the infant son of Jeret and Brittane Johnson of Elgin.

 Brittane was expecting her fourth son when time and contractions got away on her Sunday, 

July 1.

 “The day started with contractions at 10:30 a.m.,” said Brittane.  “They were four minutes apart, and I thought I had time to go to the grocery store to get the other boys some milk and cereal.”

 When she returned from the store, her contractions were still four minutes apart, so she packed the car with the boys and took them to her mother’s home.  Hungry, she asked her mother, Tina Moore, for something to eat. Her mother hurriedly made a peanut butter sandwich for her and told her to get in the car. Brittane’s husband was also with her.

 Moore was driving as fast as she could toward La Grande, but by the time they reached the Highway 82 bridge under construction, it was 2:10 p.m. and contractions were 30 seconds apart, said Brittane.

 “I knew then I wasn’t going to make it to the hospital,” she said.

 Moore had to stop at the red lights at the bridge for a nerve-wrecking minute before they turned green again and she could speed off toward Imbler. When she reached the north end of Imbler, Brittane’s  husband desperately called 9-1-1 on his cell phone.  They knew they had to pull over somewhere soon because the baby was coming.

 “Mom was going to pull in at the Imbler Country Market, but the woman on the other end of the phone told us to pull into the fire station,” said Brittane.  “So that’s what we did.”

 At that same time, Forrest Warren and his wife just happened to be traveling home on Hunter Road when a call came in to him about a woman in labor at the Imbler fire station.

 “I turned on Woodell Lane and was at the fire station in two minutes.  It was great timing,” said Warren, an emergency medical technician intermediate for the Imbler Rural Fire Protection District.

 Warren said that Moore made the right decision to pull over at the fire station because they have medical equipment there to help.

 “Ryan Denis, one of the new first responders was already there and he had engaged her,” said Warren.  “R.D. told me, ‘There’s a head there!’  I then took over, and three first responders were with me to assist, Ryan Denis, Paul Diacetis, and Justin Clark.”

 This was an exciting moment for Warren and the first responders because not long ago Warren had trained them about emergency deliveries.  They knew what to do, and now they had their golden opportunity to put their training to good use.

 Brittane was laying in the back seat of the car with an oversized shirt on, breathing quickly in between contractions.  Warren had climbed into the cramped back seat and told Brittane he was an EMT and that he was there to help her. 

 Warren asked her, “Have you done this before?”

 In between heavy breaths she said, “Yes this is my fourth time.”

 He replied, “Okay, then do what you need to do.”

 He accessed her stage of labor and ordered one of the first responders to “get the OB kit from the fire truck” and bring it to him. 

 Within seconds the baby’s head was born and for a moment Warren was a little scared.  

 “There was a brief moment there that was kind of scary,” he said, “when the baby’s head comes out, and he’s not breathing yet, but you know he’s still hooked up to his mother so he’s okay.” 

 Warren’s trained eye was waiting for that baby’s first breath. “I was thinking, ‘Come on, buddy, be good.  Please be good and breathe,’ and then he did.  It was exciting.”  

 Warren suctioned his nose a little, and put some oxygen on him to pink him up.  After his shoulders and body were born, Warren cut the cord and clamped it.  

 “I heard a couple of squawks from him, and that was it,” said Warren.  “I put him on the blanket, but really it was such a beautiful, warm day, he wasn’t really cold.” 

 Austin Robert Johnson was born at 2:19 p.m., weighing four pounds five ounces and just big enough to fill Warren’s two hands.  Warren said the baby was strong and alert. 

 “He opened his eyes and looked at me, so I knew he was going to be okay,” said Warren.

 Meanwhile, the baby’s father was standing back and out of the way as this amazing entourage of emergency medical responders assisted his wife in delivering their fourth son.

 “It was such a neat experience for me,” said Warren.  “I’ve trained for it and always hoped to have a chance to do this one day.  Brittane made it so easy for us to help her.  The baby was in the right position, the umbilical cord was not wrapped around the baby’s neck or anything like that.  It was a real easy delivery.”

 Looking back on his experience, he was thankful.

 “I appreciated her confidence in us.  She let us do our job, and she didn’t threaten me even once,” Warren teased.  “Brittane delivered her baby, and I was there to catch him.”

 Shortly after Austin’s birth, the La Grande Fire Department arrived on the scene and Devin Cornford took over the care of Brittane and the baby.  They were then transported to the Grande Ronde Hospital for more care.  Brittane stayed at the hospital for two days and tiny Austin remained there under observation for five days.

 News of Warren’s emergency delivery experience spread like a grass fire.  

 “I can’t believe how many calls I received about the delivery,” said Warren. “It was almost like I was the dad or something.”

 His reunion with 3-week-old Austin was a real privilege too.

 “We don’t always hear feedback when we help someone out,” said Warren.  “It’s not always a positive outcome, but this time was different — it was a highlight, and it makes being an EMT all worth it.”

 Austin’s birth certificate will hereafter say “delivered by an EMT...birthplace Imbler, Oregon.”   Some heroes go nameless in the record and some birthplaces are rare, but to those directly involved, Forrest Warren will always be remembered.