When bad incidents turn good

10306384_10202968441104539_434083571332203897_n (1)I met a girl today that I haven’t seen in almost 2 years.

Her name is Kylie and she is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!

Her mom brought her by the firehouse for a visit.

This was not your typical, every day, stop by the firehouse visit either.  Kylie’s mom (Bernadette) wanted to introduce her to the crew that took care of them the night she was born.

Kylie’s story is one that we don’t get to tell often. Thankfully, it has a positive outcome and Bernadette has given us permission to share it it with you. I’m glad we can!

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It was August 22, 2012 and I was on duty. We were riding with 3. My regular driver, Lt. George Perdue; was here, “Boots” was on vacation and Rhett was working for “Rookie Randy” to pay back some time he owed. All in all, it was a slow day. That is until around 10:27pm.

I don’t remember exactly how the call was dispatched. I do remember knowing that we were headed for a bad situation and we needed to get there QUICK.

That’s hard to explain. It was one of those calls that you hope you never have to hear or respond to yet, when it comes in; you can’t get there fast enough.

OB KitThis call went out as something like “female, 6 months pregnant, giving birth in the bathroom”.  I’ve ran calls like this before and I can tell you… the words “pregnant” and “bathroom”  are NOT two words we want to hear together in a dispatch. I was expecting the worst.

I put my gloves on while still on route. When we arrived, I didn’t even take my clip board. I ran straight in the house while Rhett and George got our equipment and quickly followed.

When I got to the bathroom, it looked bad. It was bad but, not as bad as I was expecting. Blood was everywhere and the mother was sitting on the toilet. THANKFULLY, the baby was NOT in the toilet (which is not uncommon to find due to the expecting mother thinking she is just having a bowel movement).

26 weeks miraclekaitlynBernadette was holding her baby and attempting CPR. I quickly took the baby as Rhett and George arrived with the equipment.

I wasn’t prepared for what I seen / found. Bernadette was just 26 weeks along in her pregnancy. I had seen births this premature before but none like this one. THIS BABY WAS ALIVE… or at least fighting to be!

We could SEE her heart trying to beat (as in we could actually “see” it) and she was trying to breath. George already  had our OB kit open and Rhett quickly suctioned the mouth and nose.

We wanted to start ventilating her with a BVM (Bag Valve Mask) but couldn’t. We didn’t have one small enough for a preemie. The smallest pediatric mask we had was two or three times the size of her little head which was smaller than the palm of my hand! We were also thinking about her lung development. Would we have done more harm than good with a BVM? How hard or deep do you do chest compressions on a baby this size?  It’s difficult to explain to you just how small and fragile this baby was. (For reference, the picture above right is of a 26 week old preemie. That is not baby Kylie)

Bernadette said today that she couldn’t tell and would have never guessed it but, WE WERE SCARED TO DEATH! We didn’t have ANYTHING that was the appropriate size to work on this baby. We were forced to hold the larger “pedi-mask” just over her face to supply at least “some” oxygen / ventilation. We too were “attempting” CPR as two fingers, or even a single thumb was too large for her chest. We cut the umbilical cord just as Medic Unit #4 was pulling up out side.  Rhett, with baby Kylie in hand; met them in the street and jumped in the back of the ambulance.

Becky Smith and Baraka Kasongo were assigned to Medic 4 that night. It was Becky’s rotation to AIC (Attendant In Charge) so little Kylie was to be her patient.

Becky was a fairly new ALS provider and as we later learned, this was to be her first incident involving a baby. WOW! Talk about getting thrown right into the fire. We  have an EMS supervisor on duty and that night, it just so happened that Becky’s Lieutenant, Scott Weaver; was riding (acting) that position (RS-1).

Baby Kylie at 29 weeks old!

Baby Kylie at 29 weeks old!

Lt. Weaver had arrived just as they were all jumping into the ambulance so we put him back there too! Baraka drove, Becky Smith, Rhett and Scott Weaver all three rode in the back. We also transported Bernadette in the same unit.

Typically, we transport the mother and baby separate so each can receive the appropriate level of care. But in this case, Bernadette was compensating very well, there were 3 attendants in the back and there was no way I was going to separate her from that baby and make her wait for a 2nd ambulance.

It all worked out and Baraka safely gave them the fastest and smoothest ride any of them had ever taken to the hospital.

When they arrived, mom was in good shape and baby Kylie was still fighting.

George and I remained out of service and went to the hospital to pick up Rhett. Kylie and her mom were up in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) by that time so everybody from the ambulance had made their way back down to the ER.

I think it was just then, at that point; that Becky realized what had just happened. It wasn’t until thas point that she was able to stop focusing on patient care and think about what she had seen and done. About how well she had performed. It was understandably overwhelming for her.

Afterward, Becky did something that I never have. Something I wouldn’t have. She attached herself to the call…. not just to the call, but to baby Kylie as well. She checked in on them regularly. She made a point to. She got updates and regularly messaged back and forth with  Bernadette.

Baby Kylie while in NICU

Baby Kylie while in NICU

I knew all along how high the odds were stacked against Kylie’s survival. I wasn’t expecting her to be alive when we got to the house that night. I didn’t think she’d make it to the hospital and never imagined she’d live past a few days in NICU.

My comfort (if there was any) was in thinking that at least we were able to give a mom and dad a little time with their child. I didn’t even know their names back then. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to attach names with faces or  images inside my head. I didn’t want to think about if she lived or not. Did she make it? Did we do everything we could have?

I couldn’t think about all that…. I had to go back to work. I had other calls to respond to and other patients to treat. I think it’s more that I would have rather not known anything past what I already did (the baby was alive when I left the ER that night) than to find out later….a day, two days or even a week later that she had died.

10312495_714778725232410_1208721779741221698_nWell obviously, she didn’t die. Baby Kylie LIVED and she is doing VERY well.

She is now almost 2 yrs old and I’m SO glad that Becky stayed in touch with them and arranged our meeting today (5/23/14) !

We all met at Station #4 (Baraka and Scott were unable to attend) and had a very nice conversation about the night of August 22nd and a lot that’s happened since.

We couldn’t believe how much Kylie has grown! Bernadette said that developmentally, she’s experiencing some expected, minor delays (as is common in most preemies) but she’s also progressing very well.

Sitting at that table this morning, it was difficult for me to picture that little baby, 21 months ago; in the palm of my hand, barely alive vs. the beautiful baby girl now waving and smiling at me.

Kylie and her big brother playing

Kylie and her big brother playing

What a gift! 

I can’t help but to think that God has something special in mind for this little girl and I hope I’m around to see what it is!

Who knows, maybe I already have? Maybe it’s as simple as her mom and dad needed a daughter? Her brother needed a sister?

Maybe a couple of tired and worn out old firemen needed to see a good outcome for a change?

Thanks again to Kylie’s mom for bringing her out to meet us today. Thanks as well to Lt. George Perdue, Lt. Rhett Fleitz, Firefighter/ALS Becky Smith, Firefighter / ALS Baraka Kasongo and Lt. Scott Weaver for the job they did that night…. STRONG WORK!

Use the link below to read a post Rhett put together about today’s reunion with Kylie.


Click HERE to read  “One of those calls you never want to forget” (from The Fire Critic)


Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines