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Air wing member delivers baby on Washington road shoulder

By Senior Airman Justyn Freeman | 194th Wing, Washington Air National Guard | July 11, 2019

CAMP MURRAY, Wash. — Delivering babies is not what Senior Airman Travis Cunningham does on a regular basis but on May 13th, Mother’s Day, that’s what he was called upon to do.

While on duty as a Washington State Patrol Trooper, the 194th Intelligence Squadron intelligence analyst had a routine traffic stop turn into a real medical emergency when he had to help a couple deliver their baby on the side of Washington State Route 153.

At the start of his workday Cunningham was northbound in his patrol vehicle heading toward Winthrop from Pateros on Route 153. After rounding a corner with his radar running, he observed a car traveling at a higher rate of speed than what he figured the car should be doing.

“I got a speed reading of 80 mph in a 60 mph zone, so I decided to make a U-turn and caught up to it. When I caught up to it I performed a traffic stop, turned on my lights, and pulled over to the shoulder. As I pulled to the shoulder, the male driver got out of the car and tried to yell at me,” said Cunningham.

After ordering the driver to get back into the vehicle, Cunningham approached the car and the occupants of the vehicle informed him of their pending birth emergency.
Cunningham understood the gravity of the situation, but given that the roads in eastern Washington are susceptible to potential hazards such as deer or fallen trees, he advised the couple that they needed to either slow down to the speed limit or he could call them an ambulance, for everyone’s safety.

“The wife, very assertively, told me to call her an ambulance. While we were waiting for the ambulance, I tried to keep them calm and their minds distracted. I went back to my vehicle to grab gloves and a blanket for the wife because she said she was cold. I wrapped her in the blanket and realized we might not make it. The female passenger said she was ready to give birth,” said Cunningham.

Cunningham, realizing that the ambulance would not make it in time, moved around the vehicle to the passenger side to get ready to help. He situated himself to help the dad deliver the baby. Once the baby had made its way into the world, Cunningham checked the vitals before handing the newborn off to the mother.

“The baby was crying and breathing so I put the baby in mom’s arms and her pulse was good. Once the ambulance showed up, they took over, got her all packaged up and ready to go to the hospital. They took off to the hospital and I went about my day,” said Cunningham.

Ideally, most parents would not want to find themselves having to deliver a child on the side of a Washington road, but Cunningham gives advice if someone ever finds themselves in his situation.

“Honestly, just stay calm. The occupants of the vehicle that are trying to give birth are excited or nervous or in pain. Just a mix of emotions. You just really got to focus on the task at hand.”

People always have a lot questions about this day, but according to Cunningham, he always seems to get one question in particular.

“Everyone wants to ask, but I did not write the dad a ticket.”