Raiders to the rescue; successful delivery through teamwork

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Yendi Borjas
  • 28 Bomb Wing Public Affairs

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D.— Hellen Keller said, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” This proved true for a handful of Airmen assigned to the 28th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron and 28th Civil Engineer Squadron, Fire and Emergency Services Flight.


Raider medics and fire protection servicemen regularly train for a wide range of contingencies and are always prepared.


On July 18th, 2023, their readiness for the unexpected was put to the test. Three 28 CES, firemen and two 28 OMRS aerospace medical technicians received a non-typical call.


“We were asleep, and lights were off when a bright red light illuminated our room and the alarm went off, indicating a call was received and dispatched,” said Senior Airman Jacob La Plante, 28th CES driver operator. “Because of the tone, we knew it was a medical call and shortly after we were given the information that we were responding to a labor in progress.”


While enroute the emergency responders were given an update that confirmed this was not their typical house-call. The labor was progressing rapidly, and the baby’s head was crowning.


According to Wilke, births on base are not something that occur very often as it had been over a decade since the last time Ellsworth’s emergency responders received a call to assist in a baby delivery.


“Initially, I looked at my partner and grew emotional because of my nerves,” said Senior Airman Amari Alexander, 28th OMRS aerospace medical technician. “This was our first call for a pregnant patient and possible delivery, but Airman 1st Class Jewel Rodriguez, 28th OMRS aerospace medical technician, reassured me that we knew our protocols and we should be confident in our skills.”


Alexander and Rodriguez were first on scene and began administering aid to the birthing mother, soon after the firemen arrived on-scene. With an imminent homebirth, Aaron Wilke, 28th CES fire captain, assumed the position of team lead while La Plante and Airman 1st Class Arthur Thornton, 28th CES, firefighter stood by to transport both mother and baby.

Throughout the birth, everyone worked together to ensure process went smoothly.


Emergency response training proved its effectiveness when the medical technicians were able to recognize and treat a nuchal cord. An umbilical cord that is wrapped around a baby's neck in utero is called a nuchal cord. The cord added some risk to the baby and made communication vital in guaranteeing a safe delivery.


The first responders used their training to deliver the baby, but there was silence…the baby wasn’t making a sound.


“Everyone was holding their breath waiting to hear the baby’s first cry, and after about a minute the baby cried out and all the tension subsided”, said Wilke.


The crew helped deliver a healthy baby girl named Taytum Sutherland.


“Childbirth is such a beautiful event and women are so strong,” said Alexander. “What stood out to us most was being able to be a part of this beautiful and life changing moment. To be the first people to see and hold a newborn baby was very rewarding.”


The mother recently reflected on the help provided by the medical team and firemen that day. Saying it was a memorable birth.


“Everything has been so great” said Tatiana Sutherland, Taytum’s mother. “Even though we didn’t plan to have her at home, everything went super well, and I wouldn’t change the way it happened.”