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Birth needed telephone assistance
Fremont County 911 dispatcher Alexandra Keeley, pictured at work last week, instructed Allison Tarness on childbirth procedure over the telephone Dec. 23. Photo by Anne McGowan

Birth needed telephone assistance

Jan 17, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

When Ohja-Zonne Eli Nicolas Tarness was born just before Christmas, his family didn't have much time to prepare for the event.

"It was super quick," mom Allison Tarness said from her mother-in-law's home in Crowheart.

Just minutes after her water broke at about 8 a.m. Dec. 23, Allison said her third child was ready to come out -- despite the fact that she was at least 30 miles from the nearest hospital.

Plus, the family vehicle was out of gas.

Faced with the speedy birth of her grandson, Allison's mother-in-law, Pamela Hereford, sprang into action. Hereford sent her son Tyrone Tarness -- Ohja-Zonne's father -- to get gas with her other daughter-in-law, Theresa Tarness. At about 8:17 a.m., Hereford called 911 and talked to dispatcher Alexandra Keeley, who notified emergency medical personnel of the situation. But it soon became clear that Ohja-Zonne wasn't waiting for an ambulance.

'OK, here we go'

"It came way faster than we had expected," Keeley recalled. "I asked (Hereford) to make sure that no parts of the baby had come out yet, and she was like, 'No, everything's fine.' Then she was like, 'No, now there's a head,' and it was like OK, here we go. We're delivering the baby."

Keeley said she has received calls about urgent pregnancies before, and all dispatchers are trained to give emergency instructions over the telephone, but this was her first experience guiding someone through an entire birth without any officials on the scene.

She said she tried to be calm and reassuring while talking Hereford through the delivery, which she described as "beyond fast."

"It just went," she said. "From there, it was like we had the whole baby."

Tyrone, 30, had returned home by then, and Theresa said he "hopped in and went to work," removing the umbilical cord that was wrapped around his new son's neck.

"He was kind of ecstatic," Allison said of her husband.

Keeley instructed Tyrone to rub the baby's back, and she said everyone in the dispatch center was happy to hear Ohja-Zonne's first wails over the phone.

"It was exciting to hear a new baby cry," she said. "We deal with a lot of stressful stuff in here, but luckily this one was a good outcome. ... The baby was healthy and the mom was healthy, and that made everything better."

The center had gotten "a little chaotic" after Hereford called, but Keeley said the dispatch team quickly took control of the situation, with her partner Owen Sullivan and supervisor Yvonne Crane handling other emergency calls while Keeley focused on the birth.

"We just kept going with what we normally do," she said, adding that Hereford also stayed composed during the experience. "There were a few times I think she was getting stressed, and I had to get her on the right track, but she followed directions really well."

Allison, who had heard Keeley's instructions over the phone, said the dispatcher did a good job too.

"She told Pam everything that I could have," Allison said. "It was pretty natural."

Keeley stayed on the phone until first responders arrived to take Ohja-Zonne to the hospital. When he returned home, the boy whose name means "Yellow Bead" joined his family including siblings Om-O-Wat Tarness, 2, and Tinnie Tarness, 1.'

March birth

Fremont County deputy Kevin Rieman also was called to assist with a birth in May 2012. At about 3:45 a.m. May 16, he said he was advised that an ambulance was being dispatched to respond to Lost Wells Circle in Riverton for a 25-year-old woman having contractions.

According to reports, the baby's head was visible when Rieman was notified about the incident.

Upon his arrival, Rieman said he located the mother lying on the floor in the kitchen or dining room area of the residence. He timed her contractions to be roughly 2.5 minutes apart and comforted the woman until her dad and his girlfriend arrived.

Midvale firefighter David Knoepke arrived to assist, and with the help of Fremont County communications deputy Jenny Keel, Knoepke and Rieman successfully delivered a baby girl at about 4:20 a.m. Afterward, emergency medical technicians arrived to take over care and transport of the baby.

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