Girl born safely in car at gas station in Trenton
Sheila McLaughlin reports:
Dave Runnells’ full-time job is as a Butler County sheriff’s deputy running the graveyard shift. His part-time job is deputy chief of the Madison Township Fire Department, where he’s also an EMT.That’s why Runnells didn’t hesitate to deliver a baby in the back seat of a couple’s car in Trenton early on Christmas Eve.
Still, he was a first-timer.
The married father of two – a 14-year-old daughter and a 21-year-old son, a soldier deployed to Afghanistan – had always made it to the hospital with mothers in the ambulance in time for their babies to be born. Then he watched.
“A bunch of them. (But) that was my first delivery in the field,” he said Wednesday, recalling the events at 4 a.m. Christmas Eve at the Speedway station at 4682 Trenton-Oxford Road in Trenton.
Runnells, 47, was five hours into his shift Monday as a sheriff’s deputy, sitting cruiser to cruiser with a Trenton police sergeant in a parking lot a couple blocks away when a Trenton dispatcher advised that a female was in labor at Speedway.
The mom, Heather Fitzgerald, and her husband didn’t get far before Fitzgerald announced it was time.
The couple had just left their Trenton subdivision behind the gas station and were trying to make it to Mercy Fairfield Hospital to give birth.
Fitzgerald’s husband called 911 and was standing outside the Ford Fusion when Runnells and the Trenton sergeant arrived. It wasn’t even Runnells call to make but he was invited along.
Fitzgerald was already in the back seat. Runnells said he had to convince the couple of his medical background, then he put dad to work coaching Fitzgerald’s breathing and supporting her back.
“It seemed like the (ambulance) took forever,” Runnells said.
But it arrived just five minutes later.
Before paramedics could even scramble out, Runnells said he was yelling for an obstetrics medical kit which contains special instruments for childbirth.
“The baby popped out,” Runnells said.
He swaddled the baby in a blanket to keep it warm and suctioned the airway while a paramedic cut the cord.
Then Runnells hurried the crying infant into the warmth of the waiting ambulance for a ride to Fort Hamilton Hospital.
“It was a girl. Gracie,” Runnells said.
Both mom and Gracie were doing well, he said. Fitzgerald is already home from the hospital, probably not realizing how the events of Monday night had touched Runnells.
The couple couldn’t be reached and had declined earlier requests for media interviews.
“It brightened everything up,” Runnells said. “I just looked up and said, ‘Wow.’”
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