KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
“He started swallowing fluid and then his heart stopped. I knew he was in the right hands though and I knew the doctors would get him the care he needed.”
These were the words of Destiny Idol, wife of U.S. Navy Construction Mechanic Jaylen Idol, Naval Construction Battalion 1, Gulfport, Mississippi, as she remembers watching her son, Colter, have medical complications shortly after being born.
Under normal conditions, military medical professionals could easily help a patient like Colter . . . but normal conditions don’t include storms like Hurricane Zeta.
“I went to the Keesler Medical Center to check in on October 27 but things didn’t start progressing until early into Wednesday morning,” said Destiny. “Once I started trying to push to give birth to the baby Wednesday night, the doctors realized that with the way Colter was positioned, I wouldn’t be able to give birth to him naturally.”
As the storm winds reached 50 mph, at approximately 5 p.m. October 28, Destiny was transported to the operating room in Keesler Medical Center for an emergency cesarean section. Colter was born shortly afterward with no heartbeat so Capt. Michael Turner, the attending pediatrician, started administering CPR and called a Code Blue to help save the baby’s life.
“I was thankful we had the hurricane ride-out team which is comprised of medical personnel who stay at the hospital during storms to respond to medical emergencies and help recover the hospital after the hurricane,” said Turner, 81st Health Care Operations Squadron staff pediatrician. “We needed the whole team to get this done because the baby was pretty sick when he was born. It was only seconds before the whole group showed up to help which is really a testament to the whole team power because it was a difficult situation in the middle of a hurricane.”
As the baby was being born and Hurricane Zeta was coming closer to landfall, members of the 81st Security Forces Squadron worked to keep the White Ave. Gate open to allow the American Medical Response ambulance on base.
After the baby had been picked up from Keesler Medical Center, his journey to Gulfport Memorial Hospital began. The Biloxi Fire Department Station 5 also stepped up to help get Colter to the off base hospital by providing a clear route from Keesler after the ambulance experienced difficulties driving to the off base facility because of increased winds and debris on the roads.
The training each Airman receives throughout their career can be used to get them through tough situations like transporting a patient to a different medical facility during a hurricane but, according to Turner, forming a strong bond with local first responders like AMR and the Biloxi Fire Department, helped turn a potential fatal event into a lifesaving miracle.
“AMR has strong relationships with Keesler Medical Center, fire departments, law enforcement and air medical programs,” said Charles Wise, AMR deputy chief of operations. “We all train together, and this frequent training allows us all to work well together in the event of a disaster, such as Hurricane Zeta. We train for a multitude of scenarios, and our teams are well prepared to respond at a moment's notice.”
Dating back to the first day Keesler Air Force Base opened its front gates in 1941, Keesler personnel have held a special bond with the local community. Getting through tough events like Hurricane Katrina and now the transportation of baby Colter during Hurricane Zeta further proves that Keesler and the communities on the Mississippi Gulf Coast are stronger together.
“They went from calling this code, then each person showed up immediately and knew what their job was but they couldn’t work in a vacuum,” said Lt. Col. Brian Neese, 81st Medical Group deputy director. “We do have times we train together as a team but maybe none of them even knew each other before this, but they know their functions and they know how to be on a team. It’s just amazing to me to hear that these people, who don’t necessarily know each other, were able to communicate and see the effect of that which is a baby that is alive, which certainly wouldn’t be alive without the training, communication, and teamwork we have built with each other on Keesler and in the local community.”