NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — “It’s time,” said Amber Dolloff.
She hopped out of her bed and began gathering her stuff; mentally checking off each item she would need along the way.
Usually Amber’s husband Airman 1st Class Kyle Dulloff, a base defender who had been recently deployed to Southwest Asia, would be the person responsible for getting all the toiletries and overnight bags needed for a short stay at the labor and delivery unit, but this would be no ordinary delivery. For this delivery, she would be going through the process alone – or so she thought.
Upon arriving at the medical center, members of the 99th Inpatient Operations Squadron realizing Amber’s husband was deployed, offered her a unique opportunity to be the first person to use the recently gained service in order to Skype her husband during the delivery.
“I was really worried that he wouldn’t be able to share in the experience of our first child being born,” Amber said. “He had been unable to attend some of our appointments due to the deployment, and I feared that he wouldn’t be able to be part of the birth at all.”
The Mike O’ Callaghan Federal Medical Center in conjunction with the USO worked together to offer free wireless internet to patients with deployed spouses at the labor and delivery ward just days before Amber’s arrival.
“The service was acquired for times like these,” said Maj. (Dr.) Ginette Damus, 99th IPTS Impatient Obstetrics Unit flight commander. “It was our hope, that the service would enable deployed spouses to share the birth of their child wherever they were.”
“It meant so much to have him there for our child’s birth,” Amber said. “It’s not something you really want your parents there for. I wanted him there. Thanks to this internet and the staff at the hospital, he was.”
The stress of missing anniversaries, holidays and birthdays can effect the military member’s ability to effectively accomplish the mission. To overcome this hardship, deployed service members have relied heavily on technology to bridge the gap between themselves and their loved ones through new forms of communication.
“The birth of your child should never be something you should miss,” Damus said. “It’s a once in a lifetime event, and we are trying to ensure that all of the involved individuals get to see it.”
Obstetrics receives an average of 60 patients a month in the Labor and Delivery unit. So far, three spouses unable to attend the birth of their child due to deployments were able to use the service to witness their new child’s birth.
“We try to make it as special for the patient and family as possible,” said Tech. Sgt. ReneTerry, 99th IPTS inpatient obstetrics unit flight chief. “Thanks to this new service, we are able to make their experience a little more complete.”
The initial stages of the project started months ago when Airmen from the 99th IPTS suggested to the medical center leadership the idea of adding a capability in the unit for deployed service members who were unable to be home for their child’s birth.
“We noticed some families were trying to use Skype but were unable to do so because of inconsistent connectivity to their cellular coverage in the[medical center],” Damus said. “Some of our Airmen thought it would be a wonderful idea to add that Wi-Fi capability so that families wouldn’t have to worry about connection issues when trying to share their special moment with their spouse.”
“We kind of took the idea and ran with it,” Terry added.
Even after they were given the approval to pursue the service, finding an organization to help with funding was still an issue. However, after the USO offered to help, that search ended.
“The USO has always been very helpful in providing anything we need in the[medical center],” Damus said. “Seeing the importance of supporting our deployed service members and their families, they were willing to provide and fund the service to the ward at no additional costs.”
Currently the wireless internet in the labor and delivery unit is only offered to patients with deployed spouses, but the 99th Medical Group plans to extend the resource to all patients in the future.
Using the new Wi-Fi service, the 99th IPTS is able to help deployed service members share one of the most special moments they can experience by bringing them a little closer to home.