Wisconsin Army National Guard Spc. Amanda Huenink, a medic with the 135th Medical Company, was working third shift Jan. 31 at her civilian job as a dispatcher for the Waukesha Police Department. Around 2 a.m., she received a frantic 911 call from a man whose wife was in active labor. Delivery was imminent.
Huenink remained calm and collected.
“There are people who literally, when faced with something like that…they’ll freeze,” Huenink said. “For me, I don’t have that response at all. It’s ‘just get through this.’ I think the military has a big part in that.”
Within minutes, Huenink talked the man through the delivery of baby Jack.
“Jack started crying right away, and that was probably the most relieving part of the entire call,” Huenink said.
Huenink has served in the Wisconsin National Guard for four years. She decided to work as a dispatcher in part because of her role as a medic in the military.
“I personally don’t feel like I have the bedside manner that would make me be able to be something like a nurse or something more hands on in most cases,” she said. “In emergency type situations, it’s not about that as much as it is about what you know and what you can do. A dispatcher seemed like the perfect opportunity for me.”
National Guard members are Citizen Soldiers who train for military duty so they are ready to defend their state or country in times of emergency. These Soldiers are the primary combat reserve of the U.S. Army and the first military responder in the homeland. As a 911 dispatcher in her civilian job, Huenink is literally the first responder in her civilian career as well.
In basic combat training and advanced individual training, Huenink learned how to properly react and respond to stressful situations. Her training during drill weekends and annual training periods have helped to reinforce different resiliency techniques which can be applied to her civilian career and everyday life.
“With the military pushing resiliency and all of that, I think that’s huge,” Huenink said. “That’s definitely a huge play in working for the city’s or state’s public services, being able to get past those things and move forward, regardless of how it goes.”
“The more you take, the more it’s, not that you’re used to it, but the more you’re comfortable in yourself and knowing that you can handle the situation and you’ve got it under control,” she added.
At the time of the call, Huenink was in her third month of training and did not realize it is uncommon for dispatchers to talk someone through the birth of a child.
“For me, especially in training, I have no idea what’s normal and what’s not normal,” she said. “After that is when people were super excited for me.”
Dispatchers who talk someone through the delivery of a baby receive either a blue or pink stork pin depending on the baby’s gender. Huenink received her blue stork pin from a retired dispatcher within hours of baby Jack’s arrival.
Huenink met Jack and his parents for the first time on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at the Waukesha Police Department. The couple was grateful for Huenink’s actions, along with the support from her supervisor and other first responders. Huenink said she hopes to keep in touch with the family.
Just like her experiences in basic training, helping bring a life into the world is an experience Huenink will never forget.