It’s like a scene from a movie, only every once and a while, it actually happens.
Officer Grant Stender has been with the West Liberty Police Department for four years, he’s seen a lot of things. But while on duty Monday, Nov. 25 he added a new first to his career, he delivered a baby.
“Mom and the baby did most of the work. I was just directing the show and at the end I played catcher; caught a little bundle of joy…I’m still amazed,” he told the Index.
Stender, a West Liberty graduate from the class of 1993, started on the force as a reserve officer. Before that he was stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army. He also worked for the United Nations.
That night he received a call around 4 a.m. while attending to other matters. The first call was for emergency medical services (EMS), the second was for for a police officer.
Since child delivery isn’t exactly a police officer’s speciality, he didn’t rush right over. After all, the call indicated that the woman’s water hadn’t broken. Typically, EMS gets there first.
However, he happened to be in the right area at the right time, arriving on scene before anyone else could.
“I wasn’t in too big of a rush to get there, but I was the first one there anyway,” he said. “When I got there I was trying to calm her down, get her mind off of what was happening. The next thing I know she said ‘I think my water broke.”
Sure enough, she was right. Stender, as calmly as possible, asked the father to get him towels and other materials. He got the mother into a more comfortable position and took charge of the situation.
In fact, it was the cool and collected way he handled the birth that earned him a plaque for his accomplishment from WL Police Chief McNaul at the city council meeting last Tuesday, Dec. 17.
But, as is the case in most situations such as this, the child dictated when it wanted to come out.
“Before I could tell her to start pushing she already started pushing, next thing I know, I was holding a little baby girl,” said Stender.
Married with three children, he was there for the delivery of his own children. However, he’s never actually helped or led the process before. He’s flipped through an emergency manual provided to all police officers, but the situation never arose…until last month.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “All the bad guys you catch, all the tickets you write, all the guys you take to jail, all the dope you find, nothing compares to it, it’s just the neatest feeling in the world.”
After the birth he asked the father to hit the button on his communicator so he could tell the police department and emergency services what had happened, but the system didn’t work. So, baby in hand, he made the father call 911 in order to report the situation.
Emergency Services showed up moments later, though to Stender it felt like hours. They took the mother and child to the University Hospital in Iowa City.
In the end, the pressure of a possibly chaotic situation had no effect on Stender.
“I like pressure, its what I liked about being in the service and what I like about this job…everything just clicks and you go for it. You know what you got to do and you do it,” he said. “If I’m nervous they’re going to get nervous and they’re going to get worried. They can’t see that on my face.”
When asked what to do if someone else happens to be in the same situation, Stender chuckled.
“I guess the biggest thing is to try and stay calm,” he answered.
WL policeman delivers babyJacob Lane · Thursday, January 2, 2014