WPAFB Airman delivers baby in back seat of vehicle

‘The mother kept pleading for me to not let her baby die’

Most people pick up a gallon of milk on their way home from work. Tech. Sgt. Giselle Rodriguez delivered a baby.

As she was walking out of Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton on Aug. 4, about to cross Apple Street to the parking garage, a man in a vehicle stopped and asked for help.

In the rear seat, Rodriguez saw a young pregnant woman in labor.

She ran back to the hospital and pressed the outside call button for help and was instructed to have the driver circle around to the Berry Center, the hospital’s maternity area.

“When I got back to the car and said, ‘Sir, you have to drive around,’ the young woman was adamant … ‘Ma’am, no, the head is coming out of my pants!’” Rodriguez recalled. “I saw the little bulge of the head and the shape, and then I walked in a little circle in place to get my thoughts together for a second, and looked at the mom and said, ‘We’re going to do this.’”

There were no medical supplies at hand, just a gym bag and lunchbox.

“I tried to cut off her pants with the knife I had in my bag, but the knife was not cutting the fabric, so I had to rip them instead,” Rodriguez said. “At the same time, the mother kept pleading for me to not let her baby die.”

Rodriguez, a Reserve Airman from the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 102nd Intelligence Wing, is a respiratory care practitioner who just began clinical training at Miami Valley Hospital. She had no prior training in labor and delivery.

As the mother gave birth, half the baby’s body was out, not moving — just the head and a shoulder.

“It was scary not to see the baby move,” Rodriguez said. “Then, the mom asked me if the baby was alive, and I said, ‘I don’t know, sweetheart, but we are going to get through this.’ I kept talking to God, and I said, ‘Lord, not this one, please.’”

She followed her respiratory training and knew she had to make the baby breathe.

“When I grabbed her up, I turned her over, patted her and started massaging her. I know I needed to get her lungs opened up and breathing,” Rodriguez said. “I placed my finger in her mouth, and I scooped it out, and then I did it again, and I heard this little cry. That was the best feeling.

“I saw her trying to open her eyes, so I got my scrubs out of my bag and wiped her down and wrapped her.”

Rodriguez got in the back seat behind the mom’s head and held the baby as they made their way to the Berry Center. The placenta was still attached to the mother, so Rodriguez kept the baby close to mom, as well as trying to keep the newborn breathing.

“I kept bothering her, telling her I needed her to live,” the Airman said. “That’s when I said a prayer over her, and prayer works, I’m telling you, because that baby let out this big cry.”

When they arrived at the center, the driver ran in to get help.

Mom and baby were transported inside the center in a wheelchair. As they were being wheeled away, the mother kept looking back, thanking Rodriguez for saving her baby.

“I went to maternity the next day, and I brought them a basket with little clothes and a blanket and a little elephant,” Rodriguez said. “I asked the nurse what the baby’s name was, and she said, ‘Giselle,’ and I just started crying. She named the baby after me.”

Due to medical privacy laws, the mother and child’s full identities were not released by Miami Valley Hospital.

Rodriguez hopes that little girl will someday know the story of how she was born, because she says she will never forget.

“For me, I just like to help. I want to impact people’s lives — no matter if it’s making them feel better by my job, or just a word, or an act of kindness. Whatever it is,” Rodriguez said. “I hope anyone else would have done the same thing.”

With 88th Medical Group leaders and colleagues attending, Rodriguez’s efforts were recognized Aug. 11 by Robert Bowman, vice president of hospital operations for Premier Health, and Mike McKewen, Miami Valley Hospital’s director of Respiratory Services.

“I wanted to come tell you thank you. For one, your service to our country. No. 2, for going above and beyond and really probably saving one, if not two, lives that day, so that’s pretty amazing,” Bowman said. “You didn’t just keep walking, and you don’t always meet those kind of people. … For you to do that is truly amazing, and I wanted you to know that.”

Rodriguez has completed 19 weeks of Phase I technical school training in San Antonio, consisting of book knowledge and testing on everything for respiratory, cardiology and pulmonary care.

Her Phase II technical training is underway at Wright-Patterson Medical Center, a 35-week program of clinicals and working with patients in both outpatient and inpatient settings.

Rodriguez has yet to complete the neonatal resuscitation class.

“I hope that anyone that sees anyone needing help, no matter what they need, to try,” she said. “Just try.”

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