Early Thanksgiving for expectant couple stuck roadside

by Kalani Simpson, UNMC strategic communications | November 24, 2021

Image with caption: Baby boy Raiden with parents Kevin Gregory and Jasmine Gutschow of Franklin, Nebraska.

Baby boy Raiden with parents Kevin Gregory and Jasmine Gutschow of Franklin, Nebraska.

In a holiday movie-miracle coincidence, Hildreth Fire and Rescue delivered a baby in an ambulance — less than 48 hours after receiving specialized, high-tech training on emergency obstetrics from the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Simulation-in-Motion Nebraska (SIM-NE).

A baby boy came into the world Nov. 15 not in a hospital bed, but on a country road, "Monday, 8:51 a.m., mile marker 32," said proud father Kevin Gregory of Franklin, Nebraska.

"My jaw is still on the floor when I think about it," said Hildreth Fire and Rescue EMT Elizabeth Burki, who helped deliver the baby. "It makes me teary-eyed."

It’s not a scenario rural EMTs, often volunteers, see every day. Or for decades.

But SIM-NE, a statewide mobile education system, provides state-of-the-art, hands-on training to better prepare emergency medical service providers in rural areas across the state, including health professionals in hospitals. SIM-NE provides free or low-cost training using four 44-foot-long, customized trucks that supply mobile, real-life experiences designed to enhance lifesaving skills for those in rural areas.

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Hildreth rescue squad trains on a human patient simulator.

"Thank God for the training," Burki said. "I’m not even going to kid you."

Ryan Knaus, who "caught" baby boy Raiden as he was being born, called SIM-NE simulation "spot on."

"Everything I did (while training), I did in the back of that ambulance," he said.

Gregory and mom Jasmine Gutschow were headed from Franklin, Nebraska, to her doctor in Kearney with two soon-to-be big siblings in the car, when the vehicle broke down. They were almost a month before her due date. While the car refused to move, the contractions accelerated.

"I said, ‘You’ve just got to call 911,’" Gutschow said. "We’re not making it."

With contractions piling on top of one another, Gregory could hear the 911 dispatcher make the decision to call in the Hildreth squad. It was closest.

An emergency labor on the road? Right after Hildreth trained for that specific scenario? Was it really happening?

"I got in the back of the ambulance," Burki said. "I said, ‘I can’t feel my fingertips, and I think I’m going to throw up.’"

Knaus got there "30 seconds ahead of the ambulance." Everyone pulled up, excited, but ready.

Did the responders mention to the family they just trained for this very scenario?

"We may have mentioned it a couple times," Knaus said.

"They were fantastic," Gutschow, the mom, said.

In another coincidence, the father of her pediatrician was on the squad, and he got his son — the doctor — on the phone.

"Having that connection there really helped," Knaus said.

The decision was made: The squad was going to Minden and Kearney County Health Services, which doesn’t normally deliver babies.

But then: "I said, ‘That’s a head,’" Burki said. "‘Get down there. We’re catching this baby. We’re doing this.’ It was fast and awesome and amazing."

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SIM-NE provides training using customized trucks that supply real-life experiences designed to enhance lifesaving skills.

SIM-NE's four trucks launched in June 2017 and stationed in Scottsbluff, Norfolk, Kearney and Omaha. Rather than having learners travel to larger cities, the training is offered at the request of rural emergency medical service agencies and critical access hospital staff and is performed in their communities. This also allows training to be team-based as learners train side-by-side with the people they normally work with during a response.

Burki and Knaus had practiced together, "and that’s exactly how it played out," she said. "He caught that baby, and his attention went to the cord and my attention went to Raiden."

She administered suction and oxygen — just as they’d practiced during their SIM-NE training.

"I am incredibly grateful for it."

Gregory, the dad, arrived at the hospital to find the rescue squad celebrating in the parking lot. "They’re all shaking my hand, congratulations, congratulations." It didn’t sink in until he saw Raiden crying on the scale.

The emergency responders kept celebrating. They got their SIM-NE trainer on the phone and said, "Guess what we just did?" More than a week later, their smiles haven’t gone away.

EMTs take so many bad calls. With the delivery, Knauss said, "You have a miracle over here. It just overrides to know you were part of a group that did that."

Said Burki, "That baby in a way made us all grandparents. Immediately, I wanted the world for that kid."

This Thanksgiving week, that family is thankful for the rescue squad, which is thankful it could be a part of a miracle, thanks to training from SIM-NE and UNMC.

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Andrea Green Hines
November 24, 2021 at 8:46 PM

What a beautiful story that encompasses so many wonderful attributes of our state and university! Hildreth is my mother’s hometown and our relative was a part of this ambulance crew. We are so proud!

Tom O’Connor
November 24, 2021 at 6:17 PM

Awesome story, Kalani! Made my day!

Julie Oltman
November 24, 2021 at 2:44 PM

A celebration with true thanksgiving for many things. And well written, too, Kalani.

Pat Neben
November 24, 2021 at 2:23 PM

Congratulations to everyone on the crew and the family. In my 42 years as an EMT, I've cut one cord after daddy delivered the baby himself and then had one of our own crew members come close to delivering in our unit, but we thank God that we were able to get her to the hospital in time for an emergency c-section with a prolapsed cord. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Allison Cushman-Vokoun
November 24, 2021 at 9:22 AM

Wow! What an AMAZING story! Thank you for sharing. Congratulations to all! This made my Thanksgiving!

Amy Lamer
November 24, 2021 at 9:07 AM

So proud of our SIM-NE program and the training they provide. How awesome is this story?

Amy Steinauer
November 24, 2021 at 8:46 AM

Great job SIM-NE! such a great program!!

Patty Davis
November 24, 2021 at 8:16 AM

What a wonderful, uplifting story! I'm so proud of UNMC, SIM-NE, and all of the wonderful things we do here and all over!

Marlene Novotny
November 24, 2021 at 8:09 AM

So much about this story to love! Happy Thanksgiving, indeed!

Paul Paulman
November 24, 2021 at 8:07 AM

Wonderful story about a superb program serving the great people of Nebraska! Way to go Hildreth squad and SIM-NE. Paul Paulman

Nicole Hackendahl
November 24, 2021 at 7:22 AM

We all need a story like this right now - how wonderful! Congratulations to this family and emergency responders!

LuAnn Larson
November 24, 2021 at 6:12 AM

It's so nice to hear an uplifting story when everything comes together perfectly. The SIM-NE vans are amazing in what they can simulate. Congratulations to all of you!

Ann Anderson Berry
November 24, 2021 at 6:04 AM

Fantastic service to the state! Thanks Sim-NE! Great job to the crew on site. This is exactly why we train!

Audrey Paulman
November 23, 2021 at 7:39 PM

What a great story about a great program. Congratulations all around.