With Turkey Baster and Shoelace, Paramedic Helps Deliver Baby

Shannon Mata gave birth so quickly she couldn't make it to the hospital, but things went smoothly — with help from a resourceful off-duty paramedic who made do with a turkey baster and a shoelace.

Mata, of Gladstone, was due to give birth Dec. 14. She had a doctor's appointment Wednesday morning in Marquette, about 60 miles away, but went into labor while still at home.

The contractions came fast.

With her husband away on business, Mata called her mother-in-law, Judy Tochterman, a school bus driver who was in the middle of her morning route. Tochterman called her boss to request a replacement.

Tochterman went to Mata's home to drive her to OSF St. Francis Hospital in nearby Escanaba. But as she arrived, Mata's water broke.

"And I could tell we were not going to make it to the hospital and told Judy to call the ambulance," Mata told the Daily Press.

It appeared the baby wouldn't wait, so an emergency medical technician began coaching Tochterman on the phone.

"I never delivered a baby in my life before," she said. "I had five children, all C-sections, and my sister had three children, all C-sections. The EMT kept asking me questions. Is the baby crowning? I don't know, the baby's head was right there. When she pushed, I saw this thing come out, it was the baby's head."

Fortunately, at that moment another EMT arrived. Edwin LaCosse was off-duty but had his radio on while returning home from a Bible study session. He swung by the Mata house "and they were more than happy to let me in," he said.

With no equipment, LaCosse used a turkey baster to clear the baby's nose and mouth. He used one of Tochterman's shoelaces to tie off the umbilical cord.

"After the baby was delivered, it was a matter of drying it off and encouraging it to breathe," LaCosse said.

The newborn, a girl, was wrapped in warm towels. A rescue squad arrived and rushed mother and child to the hospital.

"God had me in the right spot at the right time," LaCosse said. "I was honored to be a part of it and glad I could help."

Elisabeth Mata weighed in at 6 pounds, 11 ounces and was 18 inches long. She has a proud 4-year-old brother, Jack.

"It happened so fast. We all agreed that somebody was watching out for us," Mata said.