pageok
pageok
pageok
Mother in Labor Ticketed When Husband Drives in Breakdown Lane:

What a cruel, heartless cop, right? That's the way the story is written.

But wait. If you read the story carefully, when the cop pulled the husband over, he was attending to a car in the breakdown lane, where the husband was driving illegally (albeit allegedly with the permission of cops he encountered previously). In other words, the husband was endangering the cop's life. And the couple turned down the officer's offer of an ambulance. Why? Well, when you get to the last paragraph, you find out that the baby wasn't born until five hours later. If it's a true emergency, call 911 and meet the ambulance at the next exit!

As I've pointed out before, the fact that a woman is in labor is no excuse for unsafe driving.

matthewccr (mail):
If it's a true emergency, call 911 and meet the ambulance at the next exit!

Really? If it's a true emergency, pull over, wait twenty minutes for someone else to come pick you up and drive you the same distance you could have driven yourself? Talk about nanny state. I thought this was a libertarian leaning blog.
12.4.2008 10:26am
DavidBernstein (mail):
If you happen have a siren that will get the traffic to move for you, AND you have a trained EMT available in case the baby doesn't wait until you arrive at the hospital, sure, drive yourself through rush hour traffic.
12.4.2008 10:35am
mporcius (mail):

the fact that a woman is in labor is no excuse for unsafe driving.


Tell it to Fred Flintstone, buddy.
12.4.2008 10:52am
alkali (mail):
For what it's worth, driving in the breakdown lane is expressly permitted on a number of Mass. highways during specified hours, although not on that particular highway.

Accordingly, driving in the breakdown lane is not all that great a deviation from ordinary driving practice in the area, which is confirmed by the fact that the other police officers permitted the husband to do it.

The fact that the baby happened to be born five hours later is not particuarly relevant: unlike doomsday devices in James Bond films, most women in active labor do not have a large LED countdown timer attached to their midsection. The couple was reasonable in wanting to get to the hospital as soon as possible.

That said, the suggestion that the couple should instead have called an ambulance at that point (or at any point) does not make sense. The nearest exit was about 2 1/2 miles from the hospital.
12.4.2008 11:00am
Art Eclectic:
The blog entry had to come from a man. Childbirth is quite literally, a life and death situation where an enormous number of things can go wrong for both mother and child - which is why we tend to like to have it happen at hospitals.
12.4.2008 11:34am
pete (mail) (www):

The blog entry had to come from a man. Childbirth is quite literally, a life and death situation where an enormous number of things can go wrong for both mother and child - which is why we tend to like to have it happen at hospitals.


This post had to come from a woman. Driving is quite literally, a life and death situation where an enormous number of things can go wrong for both drivers and passengers - which is why we tend to like to have it happen on the road and not the breakdown lane.
12.4.2008 11:40am
Frog Leg (mail):
"he was attending to a car in the breakdown lane, where the husband was driving illegally (albeit allegedly with the permission of cops he encountered previously). In other words, the husband was endangering the cop's life."

Why does one necessarily imply the other?

"Well, when you get to the last paragraph, you find out that the baby wasn't born until five hours later. If it's a true emergency, call 911 and meet the ambulance at the next exit!"

It's not like a baby is on a timer. Can you really anticipate the baby will not be born sooner (or better off in a hospital)?
12.4.2008 11:54am
DangerMouse:
His life was not endangered. The people saw him like they saw the other troopers previously and hoped he'd be able to help them. Instead, this cop needed to meet his quota.

"If it's a true emergency, call 911 and meet the ambulance at the next exit!"

In an emergency, I'm not going to stand around and wait for a bureaucrat driving a truck with sirens to hope to find me in gridlocked traffic.
12.4.2008 12:03pm
Dan Weber (www):
I see absolutely nothing in the story that says the mother was given a ticket. It would be new for me if passengers were ticketed for the driver's behavior.

Driving in the breakdown lane isn't necessarily more dangerous than driving on the road. If you're going at 70 MPH next to traffic going 10 MPH, it is. But if you're going a moderate speed with your hazards flashing, it can be fine.

The reason you aren't allowed to drive there is that it doesn't scale.
12.4.2008 12:13pm
jeebus (mail):
In an emergency, I'm not going to stand around and wait for a bureaucrat driving a truck with sirens to hope to find me in gridlocked traffic.

Ambulance drivers are "bureaucrats"?
12.4.2008 12:31pm
Portland (mail):

Really? If it's a true emergency, pull over, wait twenty minutes for someone else to come pick you up and drive you the same distance you could have driven yourself? Talk about nanny state. I thought this was a libertarian leaning blog.


Can you deliver a baby as you drive? Can you start a large-bore IV and run a fluid bolus if your patient suddenly hemorrhages? Do you have a stash of magnesium sulfate on hand if she seizes?

I'm a paramedic, and personally, one of my great irritations in working 911 is that most patients fall into one of two categories -- dysfunctional people who call an ambulance for the sniffles, and John Wayne types who try and drive themselves to the hospital with crushing chest pain, trying not to bother anyone.

I implore everyone to think about this logically. If you have, or think you might have, a medical emergency, then you are by definition worried things may get worse quickly. Cancer, for example, is a serious problem, but no one runs red lights to get to the hospital because of it; it's slow.

If something may get worse quickly, you do not want that to happen while you are driving a car, without any medical personnel to help you and with no equipment. If you live in a city, you are probably no more than eight minutes from having paramedics and EMTs at your door, and that is the point at which you have brought the patient to relative safety. 99% of the stuff that saves your life in the ED can be done in the field or on the road. We can't crack your chest; we can't give blood; most of us don't carry thrombolytics. Other than that, a modern ambulance is basically an ED on wheels. Use it.
12.4.2008 12:32pm
guy in the veal calf office (mail) (www):
That is an awfully churlish take, professor Bernstein. Cops operating on the assumption that everyone is a criminal (e.g., forcing her to show her naked belly) are jerks.

A simple "No" to their request would've been jerky, but actually writing a ticket and forcing them to wait while she underwent contractions makes me wish he'd be fired. We should be policed by those with judgment not chippiness.

"Safety" is the empty excuse used by paternalistic legislators, school marms, jerky police and churlish Professors to excuse meanness.
12.4.2008 12:43pm
T-web (mail):
It's not like a baby is on a timer. Can you really anticipate the baby will not be born sooner (or better off in a hospital)?

True, but the amount of time between contractions gives you a pretty good idea of how close the woman is to acutally giving birth.
12.4.2008 12:49pm
JA (mail):
If cops can legally set aside general standards of conduct because of exigent circumstances, why can't citizens? Create a rebuttable presumption against, and allow the citizen to defeat it with proof.
12.4.2008 12:49pm
hattio1:
Professor Bernstein,
Where was the unsafe driving in this??? You've said that the driver endangered the officer's life, and that he was driving unsafely. He says he was told by other officers that he could drive in the breakdown lane if there was congestion and he did it safely with his hazards on. And the evidence indicates he did. The officer apparently didn't cite him for speeding, reckless driving, reckless endangerment, or even negligent driving...just for driving in the breakdown lane*. I'm sure that if you ignore all the facts that don't support your theory, pretend that contrary facts are actually the way you want them to be, then ANY story in the MSM can be seen as biased...maybe you should actually stick to the evidence though.


*The article doesn't actually say what he was cited for, but they mention no other charges and that seems to be the import of the article.
12.4.2008 12:54pm
Cap'n Dan (mail):
Have any of you ever been in a car with a woman in labor? I have. "Gee, honey, we'll just have to obey the traffic regulations, so hang on" is not something you want to say to a woman in that state of pain and anxiety.
12.4.2008 12:57pm
anon law clerk:
The amount of hindsight bias presented in relying on the fact that the woman did not give birth until five hours later is extraordinary. Contractions three minutes apart can quickly turn into transition and delivery, particularly for a second child, which this was. I delivered my second child at Mt. Auburn hospital, one and a half hours after my FIRST contraction.
12.4.2008 1:19pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
guy in the veal calf office,

While I wouldn't say it the way you did (I have too many cop friends), I would say you are right on the money! In fact, if that lady was even asked to bare her belly, a sexual harassment complaint could be filed in many places.

That is what caught my attention. That was utterly inappropriate and all of my cop friends would agree with me on that one.

This cop was an idiot.....
12.4.2008 1:25pm
Alexia:

I delivered my second child at Mt. Auburn hospital, one and a half hours after my FIRST contraction.


Me too. Well, not Mt Auburn, but you get it. Usually the OB/GYN waits for the hospital to call them, but with son #2 my OB beat me there because my first labor went by so fast.

This cop was just being a jerk.
12.4.2008 1:34pm
senate wren:
Portland,

my experience with ambulances taught me the opposite: if this is an emergency AND you have somebody else who can drive, hop in the car and full speed ahead. Ambulance is in no rush to help your patient. They're not interested in saving lives. So long as they follow regulations, they will not be punished for making it too late.
12.4.2008 1:41pm
Kawika46 (mail):
If you don't have adequate health care coverage the charge for an ambulance trip to the emergency room can be prohibitive.
12.4.2008 1:46pm
lpc (mail):
FWIW, babies that come so quickly that you don't have time to get to the hospital are almost always fine. It's the babies that have trouble coming out that are prone to complications, for mother or baby.
12.4.2008 1:59pm
Dave N (mail):
I am wondering two things:

1) If it was a perceived emergency needing lights and sirens, why didn't the earlier cops offer her a ride in their own patrol cars, which obviously have all the necessary equipment? Or if not a ride, an escort?

2) Why didn't these same cops call ahead so that other emergency vehicles (like, say, the cop who ultimately wrote the ticket) would have some advance notice? I mean, radio transmissions travel at the speed of light so it's not like the ticketing cop couldn't be aware long before the couple showed up.

Finally, I agree with the above-commenters that the cop was a jerk. My advice to the ticketed husband: fight the ticket. the odds of getting both a prosecutor and a judge who would not show some leniency based on the circumstances would seem to be relatively low.
12.4.2008 2:01pm
Richard Goldberg:
It seems to me that it wasn't obvious that the couple had five hours until the baby would be born until the time the baby was actually born. Sure, looking back, they had five hours. Before that, it could come at any minute. Worse, a complication could occur at any time before that.
12.4.2008 2:06pm
Spartacus (www):
Childbirth is quite literally, a life and death situation

I'd mention that both of my children were born at home, under midwife supervision, but I'd probably just be told I was endangering the life of the mother and child. Mothers have been giving birth for thousands (millions?) of years and while the results can be dire, plenty of babys have been born with no complications in the back seat of a taxicab.
12.4.2008 2:06pm
cbyler (mail):
The obvious lesson here is that they should have had an HOV lane instead of a breakdown lane - then we could be arguing about whether they qualify for HOV-3 or only HOV-2, which would be just as productive, but funnier.

Otherwise - babies don't follow schedules, and do you really want to see ambulances routinely called for *all* labor? Like ambulance drivers don't have anything better to do?
12.4.2008 2:13pm
Kristian (mail):
The article said the contractions were 3 mins apart. IIRC, that is normally a very strong indicator that birth is 'Real Soon Now'. I wouldn't take the over for time to birth in that scenerio.

The inconsistency (2 let them pass, 1 ticketed them) would frustrate me. But then, that is how all traffic laws are mis-enforced, no?
12.4.2008 2:40pm
DangerMouse:
Ambulance is in no rush to help your patient. They're not interested in saving lives. So long as they follow regulations, they will not be punished for making it too late.

Exactly. Ambulance drivers are bureaucrats.
12.4.2008 2:48pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

The fact that the baby happened to be born five hours later is not particuarly relevant: unlike doomsday devices in James Bond films, most women in active labor do not have a large LED countdown timer attached to their midsection. The couple was reasonable in wanting to get to the hospital as soon as possible.


Yeah. When my second child was born, I had to warn the doctor that my wife has a history of very long early labor, but once she starts to dilate the baby is coming SOON (less than an hour from when she gets to 3cm)....
12.4.2008 3:15pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
DavidBernstein:

I think that there are two things which are missing here.... The first is that the response time for an ambulance may not be great. The second is that 3 min between contractions tends to occur fairly close to childbirth.

I don't have to make such a decision because I live and work 2 blocks from the hospital. Even in a real emergency, I could probably *walk* there faster than I could get an ambulance to come and pick me up. The simple fact is that under optimal conditions, you can get someone to a hospital faster in your own car than the ambulance will take to get to you. (I recognize that rush hour is a little different, but the fact is that what will the ambulance do? Probably drive in the break-down lane!)

Honestly though.... Who really cares about the ticket? It was a pretty minor one. Even if the cop was a jerk but within the scope fo the law, why isn't it reasonable to just accept the ticket as a part of the cost of getting to the hospital under these conditions and then get the fine reduced in traffic court (though if you make a reasonable amount of money, going to traffic court is a net financial loss compared to just paying the ticket).
12.4.2008 3:30pm
Portland (mail):

Ambulance is in no rush to help your patient. They're not interested in saving lives.


Are you joking? Why on earth do you think that we do it? The wages are pathetic, many of the customers are deranged, and the duties combine the exposure to vomit, excrement and blood of a hospital orderly with better part of a physician's responsibility for rapid diagnosis and aggressive treatment (at 20% of the pay, mind you).

This over-the-top libertarian hostility to the state and all those connected with it has blinded you, if you can't see that emergency responders are passionate about saving lives. It's what gets us out of bed in the morning. Get real.
12.4.2008 3:34pm
Portland (mail):

Ambulance drivers are bureaucrats.


Sigh. I could explain to you the many levels on which your statement is absurd, but I'm just going to leave it alone, and hope that natural selection takes care of the problem.
12.4.2008 3:39pm
pintler:

It's not like a baby is on a timer. Can you really anticipate the baby will not be born sooner (or better off in a hospital)?

True, but the amount of time between contractions gives you a pretty good idea of how close the woman is to acutally giving birth.


That's what my mother's obgyn said (don't go to the hospital until the contractions are regular and 5 minutes apart), which is why I was born at home :-)

As to 'should you drive to the hospital or wait for the ambulance', isn't that what lawyers call a fact specific situation?

You're alone, in town, and are having chest pains - call and wait: even if you die, it's not fair to endanger others.

You and friend are cutting firewood a hour down a Forest Service road and have a chainsaw accident: start driving.
And, if you can, call 911, too - maybe you can rendezvous with the ambulance halfway to town.
12.4.2008 3:54pm
Portland (mail):

The simple fact is that under optimal conditions, you can get someone to a hospital faster in your own car than the ambulance will take to get to you.


Of course, but the relevant question is what gets you to treatment faster. Traveling in your own vehicle, not only do you run the risk that the patient's condition will worsen, but you lose out on access to a streamlined process that begins with the first responders and greatly facilitates the speed of the response:

1. Paramedics can collect critical information (vitals, 12-lead ECG, blood glucose) on scene or on the road.

2. We select the right hospital. You may be smart enough to go to the nearest hospital, rather than the one where your doctor works -- although you'd be surprised how many people make that mistake -- but do you know which of your local hospitals have cath labs (for heart attacks) or a stroke teams (essential for optimal care in the 3-6 hour window for thrombolytics)? Do you know the criteria for transporting a patient to a level one trauma center? If the patient meets them, and you didn't, the receiving hospital is going to shove them into an ambulance and send them there anyway.

3. We give the ED a hear report (1-2 minute radio call) so they know what to expect and can prepare. If you wander in a bloody mess, or clutching your chest, expect to lose 2-3 minutes while the ED scares up staff and gets a room ready.

4. We have stretchers. Really sick people often cannot, or should not, walk. Some can't even sit. Have you thought about getting said patient out of your car when you get to the ED? That could easily eat up the five minutes you saved by driving the patient yourself.

5. If you're a sick person in the back of an ambulance, you go straight to a room. If you come in a private vehicle, unless you're dying, you're going to have to tell your story to the triage nurse, get a set of vitals taken, and run the risk that there are two or three people in said waiting room that are more worrisome to said triage nurse than you -- in which case, the five minutes you saved can end up being four hours in the waiting room. People die in those waiting rooms; I've seen it with my own eyes.


Now, obviously you don't need all these mechanisms for a split lip, or even for a broken arm. If you can get to the hospital safely by yourself, please do; I'm not paid on commission, and I like my sleep. But if your emergency is serious enough that you don't want to wait 5-10 minutes for the ambulance -- wait for the ambulance. If things are really as bad as that, chances are you may need it.
12.4.2008 4:01pm
Dan Weber (www):
Who really cares about the ticket? It was a pretty minor one. Even if the cop was a jerk but within the scope fo the law, why isn't it reasonable to just accept the ticket as a part of the cost of getting to the hospital under these conditions and then get the fine reduced in traffic court
I'd accept the ticket as the cost of breaking the law. If the cop gave me an escort there and then ticketed my car, that would be a fine trade. Sign me up.

It was the fact that the cop decided to make them stick around to teach them a lesson that rubs me the wrong way.
12.4.2008 4:03pm
Daniel M. Roche (mail):

Have any of you ever been in a car with a woman in labor? I have. "Gee, honey, we'll just have to obey the traffic regulations, so hang on" is not something you want to say to a woman in that state of pain and anxiety.


Grow some balls and use your brain. That is why a woman in labor needs someone who can actually think on hand to help make decisions and not just scream incoherently. One of my sons was almost born in the car. We lived an hour from the hospital. My wife was in labor and yelling at me to run every red light on the way. If I decided to follow the advice of a woman screaming in pain and not using reason would it have been better? Should I have risked the lives of her, our two children, the unborn child, myself, and everyone else on the road just because some hormonal crazy woman was screaming at me to do so? Nope, sorry.

The child was born without complications at the hospital.

And even if I had to deliver it myself in the back of our van that would have been better than risking the lives of innocent people. I completely concur with the rule that a woman being in labor is no excuse for unsafe driving.
12.4.2008 5:00pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
The blog entry had to come from a man. Childbirth is quite literally, a life and death situation where an enormous number of things can go wrong for both mother and child - which is why we tend to like to have it happen at hospitals.

Yep. Preferably in Wasilla, Alaska.
12.4.2008 5:23pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

I'd accept the ticket as the cost of breaking the law. If the cop gave me an escort there and then ticketed my car, that would be a fine trade. Sign me up.


Sure. The appropriate response really is "Officer, I am trying to get my wife in labor to the hospital. I know I am violating traffic regulations to do it. Please give me a ticket as quickly as possible so I can get on my way."
12.4.2008 5:43pm
Brian S:
Another point about breakdown lanes and Massachusetts -

As a poster above noted, travel on breakdown lanes during peak travel times is permitted on many roads in Massachusetts. On the ones where it's not permitted, during rush hour the staties hang out on the side of the road so they can give tickets to people who decide to use the breakdown lane "because I thought you could".

How else do you think this guy ran into THREE staties in such a brief stretch of road? Because the staties were specifically there to mess with people who were in the breakdown lane.

The cop gave out the ticket because he was there to give out breakdown lane tickets, and he would have felt "cheated" if one of the people he caught turned out to have an emergency that should have obviated the ticket.
12.4.2008 5:47pm
RayDoc (mail):
It's not like a baby is on a timer. Can you really anticipate the baby will not be born sooner (or better off in a hospital)?

True, but the amount of time between contractions gives you a pretty good idea of how close the woman is to acutally giving birth.


Phooey. One of the delightful events of my med school OB rotation was the attending who saw a patient in the ER and sent her home with false labor. She never made it. She had the kid out on the loading dock.

If an experienced OB can't always tell, how's a patient to tell?
12.4.2008 5:49pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Portland:

You misunderstood my point.

Under optimal conditions, you can get to the hospital in less time than it will take for the ambulance to get to you. Emergency vehicles under most conditions don't travel that much above the speed limit, and you have additional response time elements as well. Heck, from where I live (granted only 2-3 blocks away), I could probably *walk* to the hospital in less time than it would take for an ambulance to drive to my house...

The question becomes: Does having a friend drive you to the hospital get you care sooner? That is the question I am asking.

This doesn't mean you should always go this route. If being mobile is a risk, or if you are in an area which has trained first aid people, you are certainly better off waiting for the ambulance. I am just saying that it is not universally correct, and the clock doesn't start ticking when the ambulance arrives.
12.4.2008 5:50pm
Putting Two and Two...:
My father was stationed in Denver and my parents were living near downtown when I was due to arrive. When my mother went into labor, my father rushed her to the car and sped off towards Fitzsimmons Hospital (the military facility outside Denver). As he was speeding down a main road, a motorcyle cop pulled him over. When the officer asked what the big hurry was, my father explained the medical emergency. The officer peered into the back seat and, surprise, no one there!

As he pulled out his pad to write my dumbfounded father a ticket, he heard a loud, explitive-laden tirade from the back seat. Stunned, the officer and my father realized that my mother had somehow pried open the back of the bench seat and had rolled into the trunk. As she continued to give my father a piece of her mind in both English and Italian, the officer flipped on his siren and escorted them the rest of the way to the hospital.
12.4.2008 5:53pm
Dave N (mail):
Putting Two and Two:

Thank you for a great story. It was the funniest thing I have read today. I am still laughing at the mental picture.

My Paul Harvey "Rest of the Story" question is this: Why did your mother pry open the back of the bench seat in the first place?
12.4.2008 6:15pm
Fed Lover:
Everyone told us wait until the contractions are five minutes apart and regular. I took that literally. They were never regular, but when her water broke we decided to go to the hospital. I drove and my wife moaned unable to speak to the doctor when she called on my cell phone. The doctor said, "I'm glad you are on your way in, be careful." I'm sure she could sense the panic in my voice. We arrived and my son was out within a half-hour. No one else in the family even knew we were at the hospital.
12.4.2008 6:16pm
Bama 1L:
The driver should definitely tell his story in court. He reasonably relied on another law enforcement officer's assurance that his proposed action of driving on the shoulder did not violate law. That should estop prosecution. It's not a great defense but might get the traffic court judge to yell at the ticketing officer.
12.4.2008 6:27pm
Aristides (mail) (www):
Leave it to Bernstein to play the contrarian and bag on the pregnant woman and her husband. A couple of points should be made:

1) Generally, the popular belief is that when the contractions are five minutes apart the expectant mother should get herself to the hospital because birth is imminent. It really doesn't matter that in the end she gave birth five hours later, as she could have easily given birth within an hour or two. This criticism alone causes me to suspect that Bernstein has never had children, or that if he did, he was paying no attention to the process.

2) I seriously doubt the husband was "endangering the cop's life." Given that he stopped more than one time to ask other trooper's for permission to drive in the lane, I question the notion that he sped up behind this other trooper at an unsafe speed or otherwise wasn't paying attention and or failing to drive safely.

So despite my careful reading, I still come to the conclusion that the trooper was in fact kind of a jerk.

Also, is there a niche for "being in labor is no excuse for unsafe driving" blogging that Bernstein is trying to fill, that this issue must be addressed more than once?
12.4.2008 7:04pm
Aristides (mail) (www):

My wife was in labor and yelling at me to run every red light on the way. If I decided to follow the advice of a woman screaming in pain and not using reason would it have been better? Should I have risked the lives of her, our two children, the unborn child, myself, and everyone else on the road just because some hormonal crazy woman was screaming at me to do so? Nope, sorry.


I for one would have considered using both my balls and my brains to safely run the red lights that I could run, and sit patiently at the ones that I could not, without risking anyone's life. But far be it from me to tell you not to take great pride in your manly reasoning faculties.
12.4.2008 7:10pm
Portland (mail):

The question becomes: Does having a friend drive you to the hospital get you care sooner? That is the question I am asking.

This doesn't mean you should always go this route. If being mobile is a risk, or if you are in an area which has trained first aid people, you are certainly better off waiting for the ambulance. I am just saying that it is not universally correct, and the clock doesn't start ticking when the ambulance arrives.


Oh, I agree. No one rule works for all situations. To make an informed decision, it would be helpful to know a) the response time (call to arrival) in your area (typically, this will be the response time of your local fire department, or it will be specified in an ambulance company's contract with the county (within eight minutes 90% of the time, for example), and b) are first responders BLS or ALS units. ALS units are for most purposes like an ED that comes to you. BLS units can be lifesaving, but are more limited in the medications and interventions they are trained to use.

Common sense is the order of the day.
12.4.2008 7:41pm
Saladman (mail):
If it's a true emergency, call 911 and meet the ambulance at the next exit!

Blogging law professors: spending other people's money no matter what their financial circumstances. Good to know.
12.4.2008 8:19pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
For baby number 2, we headed to the hospital, 45 minutes away, when the contractions were 3 minutes apart, regular and strong. We called the midwife on the way to meet us there. Baby arrived about 3 hours after we got to the hospital. We might have waited a bit longer, but the contractions had become stronger and closer very quickly, so I was concerned that the baby wouldn't wait.
12.4.2008 8:46pm
Putting Two and Two...:
Dave N:

My Paul Harvey "Rest of the Story" question is this: Why did your mother pry open the back of the bench seat in the first place?


Apparently she was just trying to brace herself during the contractions by grabbing hold of the seat and the seat back while sort of lying back length-wise on the back seat. She loosened the seat back from its snap-in fasteners and, what with the bouncing from the potholes and draingage dips in the road, she sort of switched places with the seat back.
12.4.2008 9:25pm
ReaderY:
I tend to disagree with Professor Bernstein. Sometimes, society needs clear rules that enable people to order their lives and know how to behave even if it means that sometimes the rule might not result in the best decision in a particular case.

Exempting women in labor from certain traffic regulations as a general matter lets people clearly know where they stand. Saying that it is sometimes OK and sometimes not OK creates uncertainty because people won't be sure what to do in any given situation.

Certainty about what is permitted helps people avoid accidents while doing what needs to be done in situations where action is required. The presence of uncertainty, and its resulting doubt and hesitation, can cause accidents.
12.4.2008 10:06pm
ReaderY:
I disagree with Justice Scalia's views that rules are always better than standards. There's nothing wrong with standards, and they are sometimes the best course. But sometimes, particularly when making a decision has a cost and deliberation has can create harm. rules are better. I think this is such a time.
12.4.2008 10:09pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
DavidBernstein:

You should probably be aware that women go through the stages of labor at vastly different rates. If I waited until my wife had contractions 3 minutes apart, I suspect we would have no more than an hour, probably substantially less. There is NO WAY I would consider driving with her in labor to a hospital 45 minutes away. However, I am glad you can safely do that.

In the end, I don't think recklessness can be excused by this sort of thing, but quite frankly there is a difference between reckless driving and minor driving infractions. Personally I have absolutely no problem engaging in minor driving infractions when the need exists. But there are and should be limits.

Unsafe driving can mean a lot of things under different circumstances and to different people. It could mean going 6 miles an hour over the posted speed limit on the freeway to some people. It could mean driving 20 miles an hour on the shoulder to someone else. Or it could mean a total disregard for the law to someone else. We can all agree one should drive safely even during an emergency. I am not sure this means driving normally though.

No, I wouldn't run red lights, but I would drive 5-10 miles over the speed limit in a case like that when on the open road.
12.5.2008 1:03am
whit:

The people saw him like they saw the other troopers previously and hoped he'd be able to help them. Instead, this cop needed to meet his quota.



well, DUH! he's a trooper

a Mass State Trooper. Concrete Commando! Triple A with a gun! Chapter 90 cop!

etc.

;p

spiffy uniforms, though. despite the fact that supposedly hitler got inspiration for some of his troops uniforms from the Mass State Police!

(not godwin. i swear it's a rumour i heard at the police academy. so, it might possibly maybe be true).
12.5.2008 3:22am
LM (mail):
whit,

despite the fact that supposedly hitler got inspiration for some of his troops uniforms from the Mass State Police!

Was that during the junior year he spent at B.U., or when he was the third base coach for the Red Sox?
12.5.2008 4:58am
Largo:
Putting Two and Two...:

Apparently she was just trying to brace herself during the contractions by grabbing hold of the seat...

Even funnier with the elaborations. Thank you!
12.5.2008 8:41am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I think one of the key things to understand is that it is helpful to know the stages of labor and their signs before that day comes. Of course, as I mentioned, women go through the stages at vastly different rates. In both of my children's cases, early labor was SLOW (30 hrs on the first via an induction, 12 hrs on the second, and this is before contractions are regular and 5 min apart usually), followed by less than an hour of active labor, transition, and birth combined.

However this also leads to one important caution-- particularly for a first birth, you have absolutely NO IDEA how long you have. Even for a second one, you can be surprised.

We were advised not to travel more than 20 minutes from home during the last month of my wife's second pregnancy.
12.5.2008 2:14pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Portland:

Where I live now, I am 2 blocks from the hospital. I could probably be at the hospital before getting all the info to the 911 dispatcher.

However, in other circumstances, I have lived in King County, Washington (mean response time 5 min) but I can't think of any time when I lived or worked more than 5 min. from a hospital. Maybe I spend more time actually mapping out where the hospitals are around than most people, but this just seems to my mind to be good practice.
12.5.2008 2:20pm
Opher Banarie (mail) (www):
Speaking of Paul Harvey...

He told a story a while back about a woman who delivered her baby in the elevator on the way up to Labor and Delivery. As an orderly helped her into a wheelchair, the woman was crying about being so embarrassed at the event. The orderly, trying to put her at ease, commented that "A couple of years ago, a lady gave birth out on the front lawn."
The woman released another wail and said "Yes, that was me, too!"
12.5.2008 5:18pm
The Pregnant Lady:
LMAO Opher Banarie ... how true that can be. When I worked in a hospital I think we did have a woman almost give birth in the elevator on the way up to L&D...

Even though childbirth is something women have been doing since the Dawn of Time, it's still unpredictable (obviously). Maybe no one here has heard of precipitous labor - three hours or less - where you can literally be walking around doing your thing and then have a baby an hour later. Glad this wasn't the case here, for mom's sake.

I think maybe issuing a warning might be in order, but $100 ticket? And a police escort to ensure they could proceed unimpeded would have been nice. This happened to family members more than 40 years ago ... fast labors, dad got pulled over by a cop ... they escorted them to the hospital, not asked to see proof of how dilated she was. Sheesh.
12.6.2008 10:00am
Matholomew (mail):
The couple was definitely irresponsible in setting their hearts on Mt. Auburn even though it was over 30 miles away from their home in Dracut. Driving in the breakdown lane where it is prohibited is also not very safe. However, the couple had already come across two other Troopers that said that they should only use the breakdown lane if the main lanes are jammed, to be very cautious and to use their hazards. If they were doing this then the cop's life wasn't in danger any more than a crossing guard's is on a daily basis; if they weren't then I'm sure he'll make a statement very soon saying that they nearly hit him. Barring a near vehicular homicide, however, the cop acted inappropriately. He held them there while he wrote another ticket for no reason at all since he was only going to mail them their ticket anyway. THEN he made the woman open her jacket and PROVE her pregnancy as if they had a routine with a basketball and faked contractions. Sure, he asked if they wanted an ambulance but ambulances are EXPENSIVE! Why would you say "Sure, I'd love to pay 500-1000 bucks" to get to a hospital that's so close to where they were, particularly when you've already been given the go-ahead twice? In my opinion, if the cop wanted to be True Blue about it he could've 1) Given them a brief tongue-lashing, told them they'd be getting a ticket in the mail and sent them on their way for the time being or 2) given them an escort to the hospital to make sure they got there safely and given them the ticket or 2a.) just escorted them to the hospital with a warning. However, I don't know police protocol regarding escorting civilians so the last option may not have been possible.
12.6.2008 2:21pm
Matholomew (mail):

Hattio1: "The article doesn't actually say what he was cited for, but they mention no other charges and that seems to be the import of the article." You were correct; I saw a picture of the citation.
Senate Wren: "Ambulance is in no rush to help your patient. They're not interested in saving lives." I think it's a bit much to act like EMTs are heartless and don't care about the people they try to save on a daily basis. Also, just because ambulances are expensive doesn't mean the occupants are bureaucrats on wheels. I know for a fact that they're not paid that well so there must be another reason why they do it.
Portland: "We select the right hospital. You may be smart enough to go to the nearest hospital, rather than the one where your doctor works" This is where the mother's irresponsibility is evident. She had her heart set on Mt. Auburn because she wanted to have this child at the same hospital and with the same doctor as the first. That's why her husband drove 35 miles from Dracut to get there. Still, I don't think it excuses the Trooper's behavior.
BrianS:"How else do you think this guy ran into THREE staties in such a brief stretch of road?" Not such a brief stretch of road, actually. One was on Route 2 where they got the ticket, the other two were on Routes 128 and 3; that's actually a pretty good stretch.
12.6.2008 3:17pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Just a quick reply to Senate Wren:

my experience with ambulances taught me the opposite: if this is an emergency AND you have somebody else who can drive, hop in the car and full speed ahead. Ambulance is in no rush to help your patient. They're not interested in saving lives. So long as they follow regulations, they will not be punished for making it too late.


Note that this may depend where you are. However, a few quick points:

1) There tend to be response time contracts. This doesn't mean that every response is quick but most ones are reasonable in most parts of the country.

2) AFAICS, response times are calculated from dispatch. Obviously this means response times, from the point you pick up the phone, may be marginally longer (though probably not significant since they seem to assume whole numbers of minutes).

3) A lot of it depends on where you are. I will give you two cases where I think driving to the hospital is entirely inappropriate: I worked a contract for Intel Corp for a year, and worked another few years at Microsoft. In both those cases, they had special emergency response teams of people with real first aid training there to provide help while waiting for EMT's.

I think at that point, any urgent care situation where one is worried about first aid issues would suggest that driving would not be a good idea. Secondly, if you are driving and in danger of a heart attack, etc. that is a bad combination.

As always, there are right times to call for an ambulance (dizzy and having abdominal pain, for example), and times it is inappropriate. As Portland pointed out, a lot of it is common sense.

A lot of this debate is over tone more than substance, and exactly where you draw the line and call the ambulance rather than driving as feel you can safely in order to get to the hospital (driving safely and following the letter of the traffic laws are not always 100% synonymous). It is not generally over how useful ambulances are when you need them.
12.7.2008 6:19pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
DangerMouse:

In an emergency, I'm not going to stand around and wait for a bureaucrat driving a truck with sirens to hope to find me in gridlocked traffic.


Actually, the ambulance will probably drive around the gridlocked traffic by using the breakdown lane, which BTW, is a good reason not to let everyone drive there. (Another good reason is that if a car actually breaks down, it causes worse traffic congestion.)

I don't buy the argument that just because we was driving in the breakdown lane that this was endangering the trouper's life. If it was, he should have charged the guy with reckless driving. A lot of factors go into that such as how fast and cautiously the guy was driving etc.

There are lots of reasons to make driving in the breakdown lane illegal, and most of them which might apply to driving *slowly* in the breakdown lane are matters of harms such as reduced flow of traffic, reduced access to emergency vehicles, and the like. (He could have been endangering some third party's life, but thus far I have not seen evidence he was endangering the officer's.)
12.7.2008 6:26pm

Post as: [Register] [Log In]

Account:
Password:
Remember info?

If you have a comment about spelling, typos, or format errors, please e-mail the poster directly rather than posting a comment.

Comment Policy: We reserve the right to edit or delete comments, and in extreme cases to ban commenters, at our discretion. Comments must be relevant and civil (and, especially, free of name-calling). We think of comment threads like dinner parties at our homes. If you make the party unpleasant for us or for others, we'd rather you went elsewhere. We're happy to see a wide range of viewpoints, but we want all of them to be expressed as politely as possible.

We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention, and in different moods. We try to be fair, but we make no promises.

And remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.