'Above and beyond': After 24-hour shift, firefighters volunteer to help Iowa mom in need
Dangerously cold temperatures throughout Iowa on Wednesday could cause frostbites within minutes, meteorologists warned. Des Moines Register
As two longtime Iowa firefighters' shifts came to a close early Monday, they had a decision to make: head to their warm beds or head into the cold to help a mother in need.
Bryan Johnson and Jason Aarhus jumped into their personal vehicles Monday and made the obvious choice, even after working a 24-hour shift.
"Essentially, one of our fire engine companies was dispatched to the scene for a 28-year-old female who was in labor," said Greg Buelow, Cedar Rapids' public information officer. "Basically, they told them that a baby had been born in the living room."
The responding engine company requested help to clear the driveway for Cassy and Scott Abrams, who were expecting a baby boy. It had just snowed more than 3 inches in Iowa's second-largest metro area and an ambulance's stretcher needed a pathway to the home.
"It could have been really easy for (Johnson and Aahus) to decide to go on home," Buelow said Wednesday. "Instead of doing that, they took their own cars over, pulled out their shovels and shoveled not only a lane (for the stretcher) — they did the whole driveway."
In all, five Cedar Rapids firefighters helped the Abram family welcome their son into the world.
"Usually when firefighters get called they're headed to one of the worst day of (the caller's) life," Buelow said. "This was a happy kind of a medical call."
The original 911 call came in about 6:40 a.m. Monday, right before a shift change. Buelow said calls made within the last half-hour of a shift are handed to the next crew coming in.
Three firefighters were inside while Johnson and Aahus, who have a combined 40-plus years of service, cleared mounds of snow in driveway. The firefighters in the home made sure Scotty Jr. was breathing and warm, and made sure Cassy Abram was OK. They clamped the umbilical cord before allowing Scotty Sr. to cut it, Buelow said.
Cassy Abram and her husband had been sent home from a hospital after hours of waiting for their son's birth. About 30 minutes after they got back to their southwest Cedar Rapids home, Cassy began having contractions and 911 was called.
"They had been discharged from the hospital at about 5 a.m. and were back by 7 with a baby," Larissa Ruffin, a family friend, said Tuesday evening.
Mother and baby, born at 6 pounds and 18 inches, were hospitalized shortly and are now back at home, Ruffin said.
Ruffin and Buelow both said news agencies from the Washington Post to CNN to Fox News have asked about the story.
"I think the weather has been so (extreme) that a lot of people are looking for some good that came out of it," Buelow said. "The attitude and dedication (the firefighters) showed, it's pretty good testament to caliber of people they're hiring over there."
Ruffin was effusive about the effort put forth for her close friends.
"It was so nice to see that was done for them," Ruffin said. "They had so much going on... and it was nice to know (Scott and others) wouldn't have to rush to get it done! (The firefighters) braved the cold to go above and beyond!"