Father delivers baby with dispatcher's help


Nine months pregnant, Misty Shoemaker was cleaning her home when her labor pains started. They were minor at first, so she carried on.

Quickly, the pains grew more severe until it was too late to get to the Washington County Hospital to deliver her child. Her water broke later that evening.

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With the help of Washington County 911 dispatcher Shawn Hartsock, she and her husband Richard Shoemaker delivered their daughter in their family room on March 18, five days before the due date.

"When she first came out, my heart was pounding - it was such an adrenaline rush. I never felt that way before," said Richard Shoemaker, 28.


Employed in the finance department of Citicorp in Hagerstown, Richard Shoemaker had no medical training but had been present in the operating room when a midwife delivered their first daughter, Jordan, four years ago.

Hartsock, 26, was an experienced paramedic who had delivered a few babies before and was prepared to help when Richard Shoemaker's 911 call came in that Saturday at 9:08 p.m.

After asking him a series of questions, Hartsock said he realized the mother was going to deliver immediately and couldn't wait the 11 minutes needed for the Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway to reach the home on Sharpsburg Pike.

"I talked him through it and explained what was happening," he said.

Within six minutes, the baby was delivered but didn't cry, which at first alarmed the Shoemakers.

On Hartsock's instruction, Richard Shoemaker cleared the baby's airway, placed her on her stomach and lightly slapped her feet which produced a brief cry.

"It scared me. It was only 10 seconds, but it seemed like forever," said Misty Shoemaker, 28.

Being the first person to hold their daughter was a moving experience, said Richard Shoemaker, who also tied the umbilical cord.

Minutes later the couple heard a knock on their door. It was the paramedics from Halfway, who checked out the mother and 7.9 pound baby girl named Alyssa Dawn Shoemaker and gave them both a clean bill of health.

During the labor, Misty Shoemaker said her husband remained calm, which was comforting.

"I was panicky and scared, but he was cool and handled the situation," she said.

She attributed the short labor in part to her staying physically fit during her pregnancy.

Richard Shoemaker later stopped in at the county 911 center to meet Hartsock and get a copy of the recording of the phone call. Later both parents met with Hartsock and showed him the child he had a hand in delivering.

The couple said they got the recording because they thought it would be special for their daughter to be able to hear herself being born years later.

Misty Shoemaker said she was thankful for Hartsock and that her daughter is healthy. But she would never want to repeat the experience.

"If I have another child, I'm going to camp out at the hospital at the first sign of labor," she said.

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