As Stephanie Hobton was on her way to the hospital to deliver her baby, she was praying: “Please, God, get us there safe.”
Hobton got to the hospital — sort of. The 30-year-old Graham woman gave birth to a healthy baby girl in the Tacoma General Hospital parking lot April 6 in the back of an ambulance.
“She came in with a bang, but she’s been a really calm, easygoing baby,” Hobton said of Vivienne, who was 8 pounds, 5 ounces at birth.
Stephanie’s husband, Ryan, was speeding along Pacific Avenue around midnight as he took her to the hospital to deliver. The baby was five days past its due date, and Stephanie’s contractions had started about an hour earlier.
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State trooper Erik Rasmussen saw the speeding car and pulled it over near 159th Street and Pacific Avenue. As soon as he looked inside, he knew something was amiss.
“I’d never seen anyone going into labor before, but it didn’t look normal,” Rasmussen said. He said people sometimes lie about medical emergencies to get out of a speeding ticket, but when Stephanie said she was in labor, he believed her.
“It seemed like she was very close to having a baby,” he said. “The screaming, squirming, sweating.”
Stephanie asked him to let them go on their way so they could get to the hospital.
“I was very upset we were going to have a delay we needed to just keep going,” she said.
But Rasmussen persuaded the couple to let him call an ambulance to take them safely to the hospital. He kept them calm until Central Pierce Fire & Rescue paramedics arrived about five minutes later.
Kelly Vining, Mike Spear and Noah Tchobanoff responded to the call and brought the couple to Tacoma General Hospital. None of them had ever delivered a baby before, but they had “seen how it was done,” Vining said.
Stephanie’s water broke in the ambulance. By the time they reached the hospital, there was no time to check in and bring her to the delivery ward.
“It was just easier at that point to have the staff come to us,” said Vining. In addition to the three firefighters, a doctor and two nurses crammed into the back of the ambulance to assist with the delivery. The doctor and nurses said it was their first baby delivered in an ambulance.
Stephanie said they had to put “en route” on Vivienne’s birth certificate.
“We weren’t technically in the hospital,” said Vivienne’s father.
The mother experienced a quick recovery, and Vivienne was soon able to go home and meet big brothers Finn and Bennett.
The Hobton family met with the firefighters and state trooper Friday to thank them for their help with Vivienne’s birth.
“(The delivery) totally would have been on the side of the freeway without you,” Hobton told Rasmussen. “You were the answer to our prayers.”
Central Pierce Fire Capt. Dan Beckman presented the parents with a baby blanket that a secretary at the department had made. He said they usually keep one in every medic unit, but had forgotten to give it to them in the confusion.
“It’s not very often you get to thank a state trooper for pulling you over,” Beckman said.