Cal Fire communications operator Leah Vanmeter of Pollock Pines got a rare chance to hold the fruits of her labor Friday morning. On March 4 she took a 911 call from a surprisingly calm father who reported that his wife was about to give birth in the back seat.
Roughly 15 minutes later Britlee Rudnicki entered the world in the back of El Dorado Hills Fire District ambulance Medic 85, roughly one mile from Mercy Hospital in Folsom.
Standing outside the Stonegate Village home of grateful parents Jon and Kim Rudnicki on Friday, Vanmeter held the five-day-old Britlee in her arms and recalled her prior two 911 baby delivery calls — the first during a blinding snow storm, the second a feet-first birth — before joking to Kim, “You turned out to be the easy one.”
It certainly didn’t seem easy to Kim, the mother of now four, who assumed she knew what she was in for when she and her husband John left their Stonegate home, suitcase packed, for Kaiser in Roseville that Sunday morning.
“I thought I gauged it well, but apparently not well enough,” she said.
Jon happens to be a firefighter paramedic in Sacramento and like Vanmeter, he’s had some EMS baby delivery experience, having been a part of four prior paramedic-assisted births. He used every bit of that experience shortly after the couple left their house on Sunday when baby Britlee decided she wasn’t going to wait.
“Jon’s asking me if I can make it to Roseville and all I could think was push,” said Kim.
“We’re headed up El Dorado Hills Boulevard and I realized we’re not going to make it,” said Jon, who decided to stop at Station 84 on Francisco Boulevard just north of Green Valley Road.
His mind racing, Jon realized that the El Dorado Hills ambulance, Medic 85, is dispatched from Station 85 on Wilson Way. He called 911 and got Vanmeter.
“I answer the phone and this guy’s telling me to get Medic 85,” said Vanmeter, who isn’t used to her callers requesting a specific ambulance.
He quickly explained his location and situation, “urgent but calm,” in Vanmeter’s estimation. She dispatched the ambulance at 10:20 a.m.
Moments later the Rudnickis rolled up to Station 84 and were relieved to discover Medic 85 was already there.
By sheer happenstance, firefighter paramedic Josh Bailey and engineer paramedic Bryan Ferry were there dropping off supplies in Medic 85.
Jon walked into the firehouse and announced his wife was giving birth in the back seat.
Capt. Chris Storz was on duty, and realized there was little time to spare.
The assembled firefighters got Kim onto a gurney.
“We got her into the ambulance and I still wanted to go to Kaiser, just to avoid the insurance complications,” said Jon. “But these guys assured me that we needed to get to the nearest hospital.”
Storz put Jon in the back of the ambulance with his wife, along with Ferry and firefighter paramedic Jeno Inzerillo.
“I started the IV, Jeno handled the oxygen and Jon was right there with her,” said Ferry. “We were all on the same page, following protocol.”
They left the station at 10:26 a.m. and arrived at Mercy Folsom at 10:33, but not before Britlee made her appearance.
All parties reported a smooth birth. “It was as good as it could be,” said Kim. “These guys were great.”
“It was like we’d worked together for years,” said Ferry. “Everybody knew what to do.”
After the birth, Jon took the lead, clamping and cutting the umbilical cord. “You want to get baby and mom skin-to-skin as soon as possible,” he said. “We worked together and made that happen.
“They kept it light back there, which really kept Kim from stressing out,” he added.
“It was top notch care … really professional.”
Vanmeter, who rarely gets to see the end of the play in which she is the opening act, said “It’s really awesome to see it work out.”
Jon said he was also impressed with the El Dorado Hills firefighters’ follow-up. “We got home and found balloons and flowers on our door,” he said. “This department really goes above and beyond, even after the call.
“You don’t see stuff like that elsewhere,” he added. “I have a lot of pride in my department but we could definitely take this example and apply it where I work.”