LUMBERTON — One year after the birth of his granddaughter, Jason Hunt clearly remembers the panic and stress that came with the baby’s emergency delivery.
“It was life-changing, I’ll tell you that,” Hunt said.
Hunt, a Pepsi employee, rushed to get to his family’s home on Deep Branch Road near Lumberton after hearing that his stepdaughter, Joyce Cummings, was in labor.
Along the way, he encountered Cummings being driven toward Lumberton by her 15-year-old brother, who had his driving permit at the time. After evaluating the severity of the situation, Hunt told them to return home where they would regroup with his wife, Joanna Hunt.
By the time they elected to pull into a neighbor’s yard and figure out what to do next, Cummings was in heavy labor. Shocked and panicked, Hunt called his wife and told her that they wouldn’t be able to make it to the hospital.
It was an extreme change of circumstances for Joanna, principal at Tanglewood Elementary School. Cummings had visited the school earlier in the day believing that she was going into labor.
“I started feeling some pain,” Cummings said. “She was telling me I was not in labor, that I was having false contractions.”
“She seemed fine,” Joanna said.
Cummings’ siblings, students at Purnell Swett High School, stayed home from school that day because testing was being conducted and they had already finished. When Joanna arrived at the yard down the road from her home, she saw them running around in a panic.
“My 14-year-old said ‘Momma, the baby’s coming out,’” Joanna said.
After a frantic discussion with her husband, Joanna called 911.
“By the time I made the call, I heard one loud scream,” she said.
That scream was followed by Jason’s announcement that the baby’s head had appeared.
Unsure of what to do next, the couple relied on dispatcher Dustin Marcinsky to help them through the delivery. Marcinsky guided them step-by-step through a process that ended with Hunt tying off the baby’s umbilical cord with a shoe string.
“It lasted eight to 10 minutes, but it seemed like it was an hour,” Hunt said.
Paramedics arrived on the scene shortly after the delivery was completed.
“It was an out-of-body experience,” Cummings said. “I never thought it would happen like that.”
The Hunts were thankful that Aubree was delivered successfully, and they were especially grateful for Marcinsky’s patience and expertise throughout the process.
“The dispatcher, he was the one that helped me to stay calm and not freak out,” Joanna said. “I know they (dispatchers) don’t get told often, but they do a really good job. He brought me a sense of calmness.”
Hunt said Marcinsky’s role was “invaluable” during what was an intense the situation for the family.
“You watch a lot of TV and you might see stuff like this,” he said. “It’s nothing like actually experiencing it.”
For Marcinsky, the call was important but not unexpected. As a dispatcher, he deals with many different scenarios of varying severity throughout the day.
“You don’t think much about it because you never know what’s on the other end of the line,” Marcinsky said. “It was a good teaching moment.”
What happened after the call is what stood out the most for Marcinsky. The family reached out to him to express their gratitude and to send him a picture of the newborn baby.
Appreciation like that is often hard to come by in his line of work, Marcinsky said.
“We’re always heard and never seen,” he said. “For someone to take the time to hunt me down and reach out like that, it means a lot.”
The family made sure that Marcinsky and EMT LaRon Revels, who examined Aubree after her birth, were part of the festivities when Aubree celebrated her first birthday on Saturday.
“It was awesome,” Marcinsky said of the reunion. “I’m not an emotional guy, but it pulls at your heartstrings.”
“Seeing the faces again, we got pretty emotional,” Hunt said.
Reach Brandon Tester at 910-816-1989 or via email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Tester_Brandon.