For Vickie Eoff and other Early City Hall employees, Tuesday was an “oh, my gosh!” kind of day.
In her three years as city clerk, Eoff has never had a day quite like it - and other City Hall employees probably haven’t, either.
The day started off typically - “a normal day,” Eoff said. “Just our normal routines …”
Around 1:45 p.m., it wasn’t so normal any more.
“Wade was in here talking with Delores and I, and he said ‘oh, this doesn’t look good,’” Eoff recalled. (Spoiler alert: this has a happy ending.)
“Wade” is Utilities Director Wade Walker, and “Delores” is City Secretary Delores Walker. Wade Walker’s comment was prompted by what he saw unfolding outside: a green Jeep barreled into the parking lot, the doors flew open and two young parents jumped out with their days-old baby girl.
“Then they just kinda burst through the (City Hall) doors,” Eoff said.
“Both of them were in hysterics. They were just saying ‘my baby’s not breathing, please help us, please help us.
“We didn’t know what was going on. Then they said the baby had choked on the formula. Wade went directly to the counter when he saw them coming in. If I remember right, they handed Wade the baby. He just put her on his arm … and kind of held her little head in his hand.
“ … I was just hoping she was going to be OK. I was just scared. Scared to death.”
A shaken Municipal Court Clerk Sandra Garcia got on the phone to get help on the way. A couple of minutes later, Police Chief David Mercer called in from his vehicle on an unrelated matter.
“She said ‘get up here. There’s a baby not breathing,’” Mercer recalled.
“Do something. Do something,” the baby’s dad implored.
Walker and Eoff held the baby at different times, trying to determine if she was breathing. Assistant City Administrator Wayne Creel got close to the baby. “I think he said ‘she’s breathing,’” Eoff said.
Eoff felt the baby’s heart beating.
The baby coughed and started to cry.
“Wade was wonderful,” Eoff said. “Calm … he showed a lot of concern, wanting to make sure the baby was OK, just handling her so tender and so patient …”
Mercer arrived and took the baby outside to meet Early volunteer firefighters and Guardian EMS.
“It’s scary, but you’ve got to stay calm,” Mercer said, recalling his reaction at learning about the crisis. “Nobody likes a baby-not-breathing call. You’ve got to do your job.”
Eoff said as far as City Hall employees know, the baby hadn’t actually quite breathing but had experienced a choking-type situation. She said she understands the baby is doing well after being taken to the hospital to be checked out.
Mercer, a former paramedic, said Walker “did good, whatever he did.”
While the situation wasn’t as dire as it could have been, once is enough for Walker. “It’s not something I want to go through again,” he said.
Walker recounted his recollection of the incident. “I just saw them pull up in a Jeep and come running inside,” Walker said. “They were real hysterical. … I said ‘oh no, this is not good.’
“We just tried to check the baby out and keep them calm.”
Walker said he made it a point to hold the baby face-down in case she was choking and patted her back. “I’m glad everything turned out OK,” he said.
Eoff, a mother and a grandmother, said she can relate to the young mother’s panic. “Oh my gosh, yes,” Eoff said. “We can relate … my goodness … (to) what she was feeling.
The entire incident probably lasted about 15 minutes, Eoff said. After the baby left for the hospital, she thought “oh my goodness … you hope that you’ve done the right thing. We were all pretty much shaking inside. It was a very scary moment for all of us.”
Steve Nash writes his column for the Brownwood Bulletin on Thursdays. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.