You never know what life is going to dish out. One minute you’re set on buying a banana split at the trusty truck stop and the next you’re delivering an 8-pound baby girl.
At least that’s the way it happened to Dan Leon-Guerrero June 10 at the Flying J in Ardmore, Oklahoma, where he had just showered and was getting ready to begin his 34-hour restart with that dish of ice cream.
But as Leon-Guerrero walked through the Flying J he heard shrieks in the ladies’ room. A woman came running out, asking him to call 911: Her daughter’s water had broke and she was getting ready to have a baby right there on the floor of the bathroom.
Lucky for the mother and her daughter in labor, Leon-Guerrero is a certified Emergency Medical Responder, like an EMT except for not being able to dispense medicine. And he had had training in child delivery.
A driver for Central Oregon Truck Company out of Redmond, Oregon, he received EMR training through the Klamath River Fire Department near his home town of Yreka, Oregon, where he’s been a volunteer fire fighter for five years.
The 51-year-old truck driver had never had to put that training to use, however.
But the training came back to him as he assessed the situation.
“I called 911 and they asked how far apart the contractions were so I went into the restroom and relayed what I was seeing.”
The key was keeping the mother calm and letting her push. Grandma was trying to pull the baby out, said Leon-Guerrero, explaining that could be very dangerous to the baby. The dad was behind his wife in labor and “freaking out,” he added.
“We proceeded to talk her through her breathing and pushing. I elevated her with towels underneath. From the time her water broke and the delivery was about three minutes; it happened very fast.”
And during all this they had to keep customers out of the bathroom, finally locking the door. “We kicked two people out who tried to come in,” he said.
“I caught the baby; I turned her over and got her to cry; then I wrapped her up and gave her to her grandma. The mother had had an ultrasound the day before and she was 8 pounds, a pretty good-sized little girl. The baby was late and the family had stopped at the truck stop because the mother was feeling pain and she had to go to the bathroom. Then her water broke.”
“I’m glad I got involved,” Leon-Guerrero said. “A lot of people would just take a video rather than get involved.
“We had CPR in class and trained about what to do if someone was having a baby. Actually delivering a baby was a whole new experience. I can’t even explain the feeling. I walked around proud; I walked around a different person” after it happened, he said.
He also received numerous hugs and congratulations from the woman’s family members and truck stop customers. Leon-Guerrero’s wife Robin posted the news on the Internet and soon he was getting congratulations from his carrier, too.
“I’m in the best company in the U.S.,” he said of Central Oregon, owned by Daseke, the open-deck and specialized transportation solutions company.
Soon, he got a call from Don Daseke, president and CEO of the company.
“They treat me like I am complete family,” he said. “I just do my job and I’m treated like gold.”
The day he delivered the baby girl he had just returned from a Harley Motorcycle ride with members of the company.
“They know you by name,” he said; “my wife loves them.”
Leon-Guerrero’s family is originally from Guam but he was born in the U.S. and said he’d always been interested in trucking.
As a young man he had a friend who delivered milk and asked him if he wanted to take a ride. He expected to be dropping off bottles of milk at people’s front doorsteps.
Instead, he got to ride in an 18-wheeler pulling a milk tanker.
In those days (he’s been in trucking 33 years and has 4.5 million accident-free miles) one could get a chauffeur’s license, so that’s what he did, hauling milk for many years. Then he moved on to reefer, flatbeds, dump trucks and back to flatbeds and supported his wife and their five children.
“I’ve done everything except haul cows,” he said.
Leon-Guerrero is hoping to be able to meet up with the family of the baby girl at some point and check on how momma and baby are doing. Soon after she was born paramedics arrived and whisked them away to a nearby hospital and he has yet to reconnect, although he has told hospital personnel that all of his personal information is at the truck stop should the new parents ask.
He hopes they do. After all, he sort of has a vested interest in that very special and unique delivery. It’s one that sends a message to everyone involved that truckers are indeed heroes.