BY KEN LITTLE
Greeneville police Lt. Tim Hartman has been in law enforcement nearly 23 years, but the situation he was confronted with about 5:40 a.m. today was a first in his career.
Hartman was parked on Morgan Road near East Andrew Johnson Highway in a police department truck when he received a call from the dispatcher asking if anyone was in the vicinity of Walmart.
Hartman, who was across the street, was directed to the parking lot at the nearby Gondolier Restaurant, where a car with its emergency flashers activated was parked.
Near it was another car containing a woman who had just given birth, Hartman said.
"I got up there, and she had just had it," he said.
The woman and her husband are both Hispanic "so there was a little bit of a language barrier," Hartman said.
A second man, apparently a friend, had parked his car on the side of the road and turned his emergency flashers on to direct police to the location, Lt. Hartman said.
Hartman got out of the police SUV and approached the car, where the young woman had just given birth in the back seat of an older-model Nissan sedan.
"I asked if [the baby] was breathing, and she said yes," he said.
Hartman helped wrap the newborn up in a blanket.
"The husband, for some reason, turned the car off so I told him to turn it on to heat it up," he said.
Considering the circumstances, the couple did not seem overly concerned.
"It was her third child. She was very aware what went on and what she was supposed to do," Hartman said.
"I told [the father] congratulations, and he told me it was his third child. It didn't seem it was that big of a deal to him," he said. "The mother was laughing, so she was OK, too."
Hartman did not want to move the mother to the police SUV, and planned to give the couple an escort to a Greeneville hospital. But the father apparently called 911, and a Greeneville firefighter crew, along with Greene County-Greeneville Emergency Medical Services, arrived at the scene.
"The baby was still connected [by the umbilical cord]," Hartman said. "The firefighters and ambulance were coming, so I just told [the family] to stay put."
A firefighter cut the umbilical cord connecting the mother and baby.
"They did their thing, and a minute or two after that the ambulance came," Hartman said.
EMS took the mother and baby to a local hospital, he added.
No further information was available this morning.
Hartman has escorted many expectant mothers to the hospital during his career, but the birth in the parking lot this morning was a first for him.
"I made it pretty much like any call, and (you) go on to the next one," he said.
Hartman didn't give lengthy reflection to the birth after getting off his shift a short time later.
"I went and ate breakfast," he said.
Just another day at the office, except for one local couple with a new family member who sometime in the future will have an interesting story to tell.