Baby Carolyn poses with EMT Jeff Brandenburg and Paramedics Rob Gonia and Mike Powel. They were three of the four EMTs and Paramedics that were in the room helping the mother with her delivery. Mike Morrison is missing in the picture.

Harlem-Roscoe EMS Battle Mother Nature to Help Deliver Baby

Harlem-Roscoe Fire dispatched crews out to a residence on Burr Oak Road in Roscoe on February 17, at 2:19am, for a woman in labor. Firefighters would have to battle Mother Nature as they helped to successfully bring a new life into the world, and get her safely to the hospital.

Appy and Rustin Mikel were excited about the birth of their second child as Appy went into labor early that morning. They said they were oblivious though as to how bad the roads had gotten. Roads everywhere were treacherous. Burr Oak becomes a gravel road out where the Mikels live, and it was now an un-passable sheet of ice. The couple found they couldn't get out and their midwife couldn't get in. The midwife was having trouble driving the roads, she got lost, and then to top it off, her phone went dead - she never made it to the scene. Instead, she made her way to the hospital to wait. Neighbors had made it through the wooded lot to the Mikel's house, after first getting their vehicle stuck, to watch the couple's 17-month-old son. And, another neighbor, who is an Anesthesiologist, also made it to the scene to offer his help. Appy's parents spun into the ditch trying to get there as well. They said they crawled and slid their way to the home. The couple had called 9-1-1 hoping emergency crews could also reach them. That they would - it just took a little longer than normal.

A Harlem-Roscoe Fire ambulance and engine company slid their way out to the gravel part of Burr Oak Road. They could only get within a quarter mile of the home after a squad car came sliding back down the hill sideways at them. With Dispatch reporting the woman was now in active labor, Paramedics knew the only way they were going to get there was by foot. So, while Engineer Matt Bush went to work getting help to salt the road and to get the ambulance up to the home, EMTs and firefighters loaded up with as much equipment as they could carry and headed up the long icy road and driveway.

"Thump!" No, that wasn't the baby - just another rescuer falling on the ice. Lt. Aaron Miller said on the trip up to the house you kept hearing, "Thump @#%@!, thump @#%! (Actually, everyone heard it once when Lt. Miller accidentally pushed the talk button on the radio as he fell!) The driveways were also not marked, so after their third try, they found the right one. It would take half an hour to get paramedics on scene from the time of call. Under normal conditions it would have taken under 5 minutes to reach this home.

Appy was bundled onto a toboggan with hopes of pulling her through the woods to the ambulance. But with birth becoming more eminent, lead Paramedic Mike Powell made the decision to go back into the house. He wasn't going to deliver a baby in the woods! Firefighters Lt. Miller and Rico VanderHeyden were sent back and forth from the ambulance again with more "Thumps" to get supplies. It would take two County salt trucks (with one getting stuck) and a State salt truck to get the long road and steep driveway salted enough to drive on. Matt and later firefighter Danny Gunderson with help from neighbors spent over two hours getting vehicles unstuck and helping the salt trucks. They got the job done and the ambulance was now up to the home! Appy and her new baby girl that had arrived at 4:48am, were then transported to the hospital at 5:08am where a healthy Carolyn Millie Ann Mikel would measure in at 8 pounds, 2 ounces, and 20 inches long.

Three days later the Mikels brought their new family member into the fire station for a reunion with their heroes. Appy said EMT Jeff Brandenburg was her calming force as he and Paramedics Mike Powell, Rob Gonia, and EMT Mike Morrison coached her through the delivery. Lead Paramedic Mike Powell with EMT Mike Morrison helped Appy with the final delivery of the baby. At the fire station, the group reminisced over what Appy calls, "The greatest experience of my life!" Holding her new daughter in her arms, Appy gratefully said, "How can you thank someone enough for helping deliver something this amazing!" "We had the easy part!" commented Paramedic Rob Gonia. "Appy was the one doing all the work!" The Mikels presented Assistant Chief Ken O'Dell with a donation to the department as a token of their gratitude. They also promise to get their driveway properly marked with their address in large numbers.

Rob, Mike, and Jeff pose with mom and dad, Rustin & Appy Mikel, big brother 17-month-old Joey, and baby Carolyn.

Paramedics Mike Powell and Rob Gonia enjoyed getting to hold Carolyn.

Left, Baby Carolyn seems to be talking to EMT Jeff Brandenburg. Right, Jeff shows off Carolyn to his own son Cole.