The score on the field in the Dallas-New England NFL game was never really close. In the stands, however, a young wife and husband were deadlocked: One lifelong Cowboy fan—Haley Waterman—to one lifelong Patriots fan—Tyler Waterman. When Haley’s water broke, that tie was essentially broken, as well. She went into labor in the game’s second quarter and several hours later delivered a healthy baby girl who, at the very least, will be an “honorary” Cowboy fan for life.
American Medical Response (AMR) Special Event EMTs Brittney Patterson and Mindy Sargent, Special Event Paramedic Thomas Beaver and AMR Arlington Assistant Operations Manager Michael Erwin, were in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas that night. Standing by in the event of injuries or illness to fans and players alike, the AMR crew were expecting business as usual: Tending to people who had overindulged in spirits or concessions, treating minor scrapes and bruises in the crush of a crowd of approximately 80,000, and possibly catching a moment or two of the excitement on the field. It turned out that the real excitement was in the stands.
“We’re always ready for a serious incident, but those are, thankfully, few and far between,” said Erwin. “Even then, a woman going into labor is not high on the list of possibilities. It had never happened before, that I know of. It was a first for us, that’s for sure.”
It was a surprising turn of events for the Waterman’s, as well. Haley was not due for another three weeks. A fun evening of football and stoking the intra-familial rivalry seemed like a fine diversion as the couple prepared for the approaching big occasion.
By the second quarter, the Cowboys were pulling away to what would eventually be a no-doubt 38-3 victory. Haley was enjoying the turn of events; Tyler was holding out hope for a turn-around. It did not dawn on either that they might not be around to catch the end of the game. Then, Haley stood up and her water broke.
Patterson and Sargent, one of two EMS teams working the game, received the emergency call and made their way from their on-site medical station to the Waterman’s section. Working their way through the throng of fans with a gurney, the pair arrived on scene to a novel site.
“The other people in the stands around the patient were not paying attention to the game, anymore,” said Patterson. “Word had spread that a woman had gone into labor and now the fans were cheering her on more loudly than they were the Cowboys.”
Quickly recognizing the medical situation, and seeing that the patient was not in distress, the team checked Haley’s vital signs and put her on the gurney to help transport her out of the stadium and to a nearby North Texas hospital. “There’s not a lot you can do for a soon-to-be mom in labor,” said Sargent. “Just be prepared to facilitate the delivery yourself while making her comfortable and getting her and the baby to the level of care they need for a safe and healthy delivery.”
Upon arrival at the hospital, the Watermans watched on their phones as the Cowboys pulled farther away from the Patriots, even as Haley’s contraction were edging closer together. At 4:11 a.m. Delaney Lou Waterman was brought into this world, 7 pounds 11 ounces and perfectly healthy, despite the premature birth.
The couple say that they will let their little girl decide which team she ultimately wants to root for. In the meantime, they have onesies for both Dallas and New England. As for Erwin, Patterson and Sargent, they have no doubt. “She should be a Cowboy fan for life,” they agreed.