PA cop helps deliver baby on highway road
By Laura Freeman
LANCASTER, Penn. — Amanda Kucharski thought she had plenty of time before her baby arrived.
She had three minutes.
Stuck on Route 30 in the back seat of her car, Kucharski, her husband and a police officer needed the couple's last pre-paid cell phone minutes to get instructions from a midwife.
Even though this was her second experience with childbirth, the labor pains Kucharski felt Tuesday morning just didn't seem that severe, she said.
"I was questioning whether it was real labor," she said. "I didn't want to go to the hospital with a false alarm."
Her pain, however, was anything but false. While traveling east toward the Birth Center in Bart Township a little after 11 a.m., full labor began, Kucharski said.
"I was really surprised at how fast it all went," she said. "I was in the back seat in incredible pain, but didn't even know I was at the end of (labor)."
By this point, her husband, Patrick Kucharski, attempted — with some difficulty due to heavy traffic — to pull over onto the shoulder of Route 30.
The couple approached the Oregon Pike interchange just as Manheim Township Police Officer Steven Newman, 24, was entering Route 30 on a routine patrol.
Newman then saw the Kucharski's car approach behind him, he said.
"(Patrick Kucharski) pretty much pulled me over," Newman said. "He was honking his horn and blinking his lights."
After both cars stopped on the shoulder, Newman immediately began to help by putting in a call for an ambulance.
"He said, 'My wife's pregnant,' " Newman said. "I thought she'd just need a transport."
However, at this point, the baby had already begun to crown with a few minor complications, Amanda Kucharski said.
"My water had never broken," she said. "So my husband looked down and all he could see was a sac of water."
Fearing there was a problem, the Kucharskis called their midwife, Maribeth Diver, for assistance.
It was during this conversation with Diver that Patrick Kucharski realized that his phone only had three pre-paid minutes remaining.
"He told me his phone ... was dying," Diver said. "I was just trying to tell them to calm down."
Diver then focused on helping Newman, who had entered the Kucharski's vehicle.
A baby being born en caul, or still in the bag of water, is uncommon but not extremely dangerous.
Diver instructed Newman to break the bag with his finger and pull it over the baby's head, she said.
"It was a pretty easy delivery," Newman said. "In total it probaby only took five minutes."
After the delivery, Newman flipped the baby over to clear its airways. He then wrapped it in a blanket that the Kucharskis had in the car, he said.
Diver, still on the phone, heard the baby cry and declared it a "healthy birth cry" before being promptly cut off as the phone died, Amanda Kucharski said.
"Once the baby was crying, that took some of the nerves away," Newman said.
Diver is not suprised about the ease of the birth.
"When birth goes well, it's very simple," Diver said. "We just guide the baby."
Still, Newman's police training only featured first aid, never full delivery instructions, he said.
"It's not really a topic they discuss in depth," Newman said.
But he never panicked, Amanda Kucharski said.
"He coached me through the birth and stayed calm the entire time," she said.
An ambulance arrived about five minutes after the birth, Newman said. Patrick Kucharski was then able to cut the umbilical cord from his new daughter, Genesis Eve, his wife said.
Mother and daughter were then transported to Women & Babies Hospital in Lancaster.
Genesis joins a 2-year-old brother.
A highway delivery is a rarity for the Manheim Township police with the department believing there is only one other instance, Sgt. Thomas Rudzinski said.
Newman, whom Rudzinski described as "very quiet," graduated from Conestoga Valley High School in 2003 and attended the HACC Police Academy.
"I was more excited than anything," Newman said. "My training really took over."
Copyright 2008 The Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster)
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