Kristian Nuckles, EMT with Buffalo Island Emergency Ambulance Service, in Monette, had a lot to be thankful for last month, as he helped deliver a healthy baby girl in the back of an ambulance, enroute to St. Bernards Medical Center in Jonesboro.
Loretta Maness, 22, and her husband Kenny, of Manila, were visiting relatives, when she she felt the familiar pains of childbirth begin. Having three other children already, Mrs. Maness, knew the baby was coming soon, so she and her husband were on their way to Jonesboro to the hospital. By the tine she got to Monette, the baby was well on the way, so Mr. Maness ran into Buffalo Island EMS to get help.
"When Kenny came in he said, `My wife is having a baby,'" Nuckles said. "I jokingly told him we didn't do that here. Seeing he was very serious, we got busy taking care of Loretta and placed her in the ambulance to hopefully get to the hospital in time for the birth. I could see that she was going to have that baby soon. We called for the Emerson Ambulance, out of Jonesboro, for backup."
"I got the OB kit out of storage and began making preparation for the birth, that looked like it was going to take place any time," Nuckles said. "Loretta was real good about the whole thing, but I was sure nervous."
"We met the Emerson Ambulance at the Sonic in Nettleton and began to transfer Loretta over," Nuckles said. "Mike Shreve of Emerson was a big help to me, as I delivered that baby right then and there. When babies decide to be born, they don't care where they are, or who is helping take care of them."
"Little Courtney Amber Maness was born at 1:13 p.m., on Nov. 11, 2003, at the Sonic drive-in, and she was beautiful and healthy," Nuckles said. "Loretta did a real good job in giving birth, which made our part much easier than it might have been with a less experienced mother."
"I was really scared at first, as my first experience with being a father had been very traumatic," Nuckles said. "My wife, Catrina, gave birth to our son, Mason, this May. He was premature and had fluid on his lungs. They airlifted him to Children's Hospital in Little Rock. One of his lungs collapsed. He spent eight days on the respirator and another day in the hospital."
"My greatest fear was that Loretta or the baby would need critical care, soon after birth, so we were doing everything to get them both to the hospital in time. I am very thankful that they were both healthy and that everything went smooth and natural. It sure gives me a different feeling about childbirth, now that I have played a part in the process and witnessed it up close and personal. It just happened so fast, I couldn't believe it."
Nuckles had to go back to the hospital later and get his photo taken with baby Courtney for a keepsake. Not that he will ever forget that special day, when all his EMT training paid off, and Courtney came into this world at the Sonic in Nettleton.
"I won't ever be able to pass that Sonic now without thinking of little Courtney," Nuckles said. "Something like this changes your life forever."
The Nuckles have another son, Cody Mitchell, 8, and they make their home in Jonesboro. Kristian was a 1995 BIC High School graduate, and has only been on the job at Buffalo Island EMS for three months.
"I feel like I could tackle anything now," Nuckles said. "I guess this was my initiation period."