By Chris Walz, DeWitt Army Community Hospital Public AffairsApril 22, 2011
FORT BELVOIR, Va., April 22, 2011 -- Lt. Col. Timothy Barron knows emergencies can strike at any moment. It is something he's learned during his time in the military and as the department head of DeWitt Army Community Hospital's Emergency Room, here.
As a result, he rarely takes breaks. So, it was no surprise to Barron -- and a little bit of Murphy's Law -- that an emergency would strike seconds after Barron decided to grab a cup of coffee from the hospital dining facility.
"We look out the window and see a nurse waving her hands (in the driveway loop outside of the ER) next to a car. So, we rush out and find a woman giving birth in the front passenger seat," Barron said, referring to the events of April 6, 2011. "The baby's head and shoulders were out, so I helped get the torso and legs."
Barron said the next few moments were truly "life or death." The umbilical cord was wrapped around the newborn's neck and the temperatures were in the mid-30s.
"The baby needed a breath," Barron said.
He tried to remove the debris from the baby's airway with his finger, but noticed the airway was clogged with meconium - baby feces. Without suction available, he used his mouth to clear the baby's airway and prevent the substance from causing infection in the newborn's lungs.
Seconds later, paramedics Lori Hoffmaster, Carla Hill and Dawn Hill (no relation) were able to better suction the airway and clamp the umbilical cord. Barron's attention turned to the mother, Monique Turner.
"She wasn't bleeding out, but she was in shock," he said. "She was in good condition, considering the circumstances."
After being moved from the vehicle into the hospital, Monique and newborn daughter, Macy, continued receiving close attention and care by the medical staff. Both are in good health and returned home April 8, 2011. Macy weighed 5 lbs. 15 oz.
Barron, for his part, is quick to turn the attention elsewhere -- to the mother and the DeWitt team -- for a successful outcome.
"Monique did all of the work by delivering her newborn in the car as Shawn (Turner) maneuvered through Tulley Gate, which is always slow in the mornings," Barron said.
"I had my first contraction at 5:15 (a.m.) and had the baby by 6:30 (a.m.)," said Monique Turner. "Last time (in a previous pregnancy), I was in labor for 14 hours. But, this time it was race, race, race."
Getting to DeWitt was a scene straight from an action movie, she said.
"The baby was crowning and there were 10 cars parked in front of us at (Tulley) Gate," Monique said. "We just went driving through the gate - we didn't have time to pull out our IDs."
A female guard heard the screams from the car and knew it was labor pain, so she quickly waived the car through gate. Shawn Turner then drove on the wrong side of Pohick Road to bypass traffic.
Monique said a team arrived immediately to care for her and Macy. In addition to the three paramedics, the team consisted of nurses Lubaba Mohammad and Pat Parker; and medical technicians Minerva Valenzuela, Taneisha Caldwell and Raquel Hinds.
Though everything happened so fast it was a blur, she said she remembers Barron removing the meconium from Macy's mouth, "which I thought was awesome."
Husband Shawn also helped the medical team, wrapping his newborn daughter in his fleece sweatshirt to help keep her warm during the ordeal.
Barron said the team rode the adrenaline high for the remainder of the shift. In fact, he said, he called his wife to describe the events. She could appreciate the story, he said, because she is serving in a fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for the use of robotics in Ob/Gyn and labor and delivery.
The ER's mission and motto is "24/7/365," said Barron. "You never know what's going to happen, but we have to have the ability to respond with the most effective care possible in unknown and stressful situations, always at-the-ready."
The DeWitt team did just that, Monique said.
"I can't believe how fast they were," she explained. "They didn't hesitate. They got a team together in seconds. There was no delay. They were focused on Macy's health and my health the whole time."