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Holloman Airmen deliver baby at main gate

(From left to right) Airman 1st Class Joshua Hennigan, 49th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter;  Senior Airman Cameron Nolen, 49th CES driver operator; Norman Bloom, 49th CES lead firefighter; and Todd McGowan, 49th CES assistant fire chief, pose for a photo on Holloman Air Force Base New Mexico, June 1, 2021. Hennigan, Nolen, Bloom and McGowan were on the team of first responders that helped deliver the Novotnak’s daughter. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Denise Ottaviano)

(From left to right) Airman 1st Class Joshua Hennigan, 49th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter; Senior Airman Cameron Nolen, 49th CES driver operator; Norman Bloom, 49th CES lead firefighter; and Todd McGowan, 49th CES assistant fire chief, pose for a photo on Holloman Air Force Base New Mexico, June 1, 2021. Hennigan, Nolen, Bloom and McGowan were on the team of first responders that helped deliver the Novotnak’s daughter. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Denise Ottaviano)

Staff Sgt. Grant Novotnak, 49th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron element noncommissioned officer in charge, and Ruth Novotnak, pose for a photo after the birth of their daughter at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, May 26, 2021. Susanna Novotnak was born in the backseat of the Novotnak’s vehicle at the main gate on Holloman AFB. (Courtesy Photo

Staff Sgt. Grant Novotnak, 49th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron element noncommissioned officer in charge, and Ruth Novotnak, pose for a photo after the birth of their daughter at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, May 25, 2021. Susanna Novotnak was born in the backseat of the Novotnak’s vehicle at the main gate on Holloman AFB. (Courtesy Photo

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

One of 49th Wing leadership’s main priorities is taking care of Airmen and their families. At any moment, an Airman and their family may need assistance from a wingman.

That moment came for Staff Sgt. Grant Novotnak, 49th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron element noncommissioned officer in charge and his wife Ruth Novotnak in the early hours of May 25, 2021, when Ruth went into labor with their second child.

While driving his wife to Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico, Novotnak had to pull over at the main gate and seek assistance from 49th Security Forces Squadron Airmen because his wife was going into labor.

“When we were driving to the hospital my wife said, ‘Grant, make sure you take it easy through the stop signs,’’’ Novotnak said. “By the time we made it to the gate she told me, ‘The baby is coming now, we have to stop at the gate.’’’

Novotnak said upon their arrival and plea for help, the defender immediately called 911, and the 49th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department arrived on the scene shortly after.

Norman Bloom, 49th CES lead firefighter; Todd McGowan, 49th CES assistant fire chief; Airman 1st Class Joshua Hennigan, 49th CES firefighter and Senior Airman Cameron Nolen, 49th CES driver operator, responded to the scene and collectively provided patient care to the Novotnaks, culminating in the birth of Susanna Novotnak at 4:06 a.m.

“You never think something like this will happen to you,” Novotnak said. “I’m getting chills just thinking about it. But, my little girl decided to make quite an entrance into the world.”

Upon arrival to the scene, Bloom prepared to deliver the baby in the backseat of the Novotnaks’ vehicle.

“Majority of the time when we get these types of calls, it’s somebody having contractions or not very far along,” Bloom said. “However, when we pulled up to the gate, the father quickly told me the mother was already crowning.”

With over 20 years of experience as a first responder, this was the only time Bloom has delivered a baby.

“I’ve waited patiently for 20 years for a baby delivery,” Bloom said. “For me, once everything went into motion, it was a surreal experience. I’ve done this job for a long time and I’ve sat with a lot of souls who have left this earth, so it was amazing to welcome a new soul coming into this world. I was blessed to be a part of this process.”

After Ruth gave birth, the family was transported to General Champion Regional Medical Center for postpartum and pediatric care.

“This is less about our story and more about the heroes we have in the U.S. Air Force,” Novotnak said. “For me, those people at the gate and the first responders are all heroes.”

The collaborative efforts of the 49th SFS and the 49th CES to deliver the Novotnaks’ daughter exemplify what it means to be a U.S. Air Force Airman and mirrors the 49th Wing’s ongoing effort to ensure Holloman Airmen and families have the help when they need it.

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