Caraway EMTs welcome home little Heidi Holt

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Town Crier News Staff

Local EMTs welcomed home Caraway's newest and smallest citizen Saturday, little miss Heidi Leah Holt, weighing in at a whopping 6 pounds.

As small as Heidi Holt is today, when the Caraway EMTs first met her, she weighed only 2 pounds and 6 ounces. Heidi's arrival came as quite a surprise to everyone, not only to the EMTs but to her mother Dee Holt, 23, as well.

"I had none of the normal indications that I was pregnant," Mrs. Holt said. "During the past few days, before Heidi arrived, I did think I had a stomach virus or something, as there was a lot of that going around. I got up early in the morning of Oct. 10, 2006, to take a warm bath, hoping it would relax me.

"Soon afterwards I felt like I was going to be sick at my stomach," she said. "Before I knew it my water had broke and I felt the familiar signs of a baby coming. I yelled for my husband Jered, who was still in bed, to call 911. He wanted to know why, and I told him I was having a baby. Needless to say he was as shocked as I was."

"Shortly after 5 a.m. we got the call from 911 in Jonesboro telling us that a Caraway woman was having a baby at home and the baby was in distress," Caraway EMT Barry Riley said. "Four of us responded to the call, arriving on the scene in about eight minutes."

With his baby delivery kit in his hand, Riley and the other three EMTs entered the Holt residence and found the mother in the bathroom holding a tiny newborn baby in her arms, still attached by the umbilical cord.

"The baby was already blue and not breathing due to closed airways," Riley said. "The airways were suctioned and cleared and soon she took her first breath. After working with her, we heard a tiny moan, which was definitely a good sign. Next I made preparation to cut the umbilical cord. I had never done this before and I have to admit I was nervous. I knew it would take about 30 minutes for an ambulance to arrive out of Jonesboro, and time was so important to the life of this child. We all just leaned on the O.B. training we had received for the use of the emergency equipment. I used the two pieces of string to tie off the umbilical cord before making the cut with the sterilized scalpel.

"EMT Bo James took the baby and began working with her, while I attended to the mother," Riley said. "It was unreal how small the newborn was, as she could fit in one of our hands."

"The baby was wrapped up to keep her warm and I continued rubbing her back to stimulate breathing," James said. "I could tell she was alive and I was determined to get her breathing, if at all possible. She continued giving out that faint small moan.

"I could hear our EMT chaplain, Al Lunsford, praying for us and the baby. His prayer was of great comfort as I knew the fate of this baby was truly in God's hands, even though we were doing everything humanly possible to help."

Caraway EMT Chuck Nichols jumped in the driver's seat of the ambulance as the other three loaded the baby and mother for transport to St. Bernards Medical Center in Jonesboro.

"Chuck headed the ambulance west, Al kept on praying, while I worked with the baby and Barry kept the mother stabilized," James said. "Before we got to Black Oak, en route to Jonesboro, the baby had started crying, which was a very good sign that she was going to be O.K. For such a tiny little thing, she had a healthy cry."

The Medic 1 ambulance dispatched originally by 911 services met the Caraway ambulance at Black Oak.

"They started I.V.s and took charge of the baby and the mother," Riley said. "The mother's blood pressure had dropped dangerously low by this time, and she had lost a lot of blood."

"We hated to give that baby over to Medic 1, as we had already grown attached to her," James said. "Above all we wanted to do what was best for them both, so we didn't hesitate."

All the EMTs admitted they were not worth anything on their regular jobs that day, as their hearts and minds were with the mother and baby. Normally at 5:30 a.m. the men were up and ready to leave for work, but not this day, they were on the job as EMTs for Caraway's volunteer ambulance service. Their quick response and training had saved the life of the baby, and possibly that of the mother.

Upon arrival at St. Bernards the baby was air transported by Blue Angel #1 helicopter to The Children's Hospital, in Little Rock, while the mother was kept overnight in Jonesboro.

"I couldn't relax all night, wondering how Heidi was, and longing to be with her," Mrs. Holt said. "As soon as they released me, Jered and I headed to Little Rock.

"Heidi was doing wonderfully well in the neonatal unit at the hospital," she said. "They estimated that she was 30 weeks along when she was born. Now she was breathing well and was all pink and beautiful. There were machines with tubes running everywhere, but she was alive, that was the main thing.

"I couldn't get over how much Heidi looked like her two year old big sister, Hailey. We could hardly wait until Heidi was well enough to bring home. We all prayed to have her home for Christmas, and we got our wish. We arrived back in Caraway on on Dec. 22, free of all the equipment that had surrounded her for over 2 1/2 months.

"I look at Heidi sleeping peacefully in her bed and realized her birth and survival was nothing short of a miracle," she said. "I will forever be grateful to the EMTs for running to our rescue is such a short time. They knew just what to do and did it very professionally."

"Even though we had seen our own babies born, we had never delivered one ourselves," Riley said. "We used skills that night that we had never used before."

"We went in as a team and came out as a team," James said. "No one of us could have done what we did together."

In small towns, it takes a lot of volunteers and community servants to take care of all the needs of the community. These four EMT's not only work for the ambulance service, but are volunteer firemen as well, and also go out with the Caraway Search and Rescue unit, when needed. Riley was sworn in on Jan. 1 as Caraway Mayor and James is a city councilman and the new fire chief.

"We will never forget the night that Heidi was born, as that will be engraved in our memories forever," Riley said. "When we held her in our hands last Saturday, and saw how perfect and healthy she is, it makes all those hours of jumping out of bed at night and running to the scene worth it. There will always be a need for local ambulance services and people who feel committed to get the training and answer the call."

Heidi Holt's grandparents are Penny and Levie Morris, Barry and Ladona Wooldridge, and Ronald Holt. Great- grandparents are Eula and Earl Cobb, Barbara Morris, Martha Helms, Waymon and Christine Holt.

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