CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- While deployed to Iraq, many Marines of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, will unfortunately miss important family events that happen only once a year or perhaps once in a lifetime.
But one Marine, Lance Cpl. Matthew J. Hutchison, a combat cameraman with the battalion, was fortunate enough to see one of the most important events in his life, his first child being born, via video transmitted across the World Wide Web. He received some help from the hospital and fellow deployed Marines, allowing him to see the birth shortly after the actual event.
“The hardest part of being sent to Iraq was that I would miss the birth of my son,” said the 25-year-old Akron, Ohio, native. “But knowing that the hospital and Marines from Regimental Combat Team-8 were going out of their way to help me see the birth was a great feeling.”
While Hutchison was on leave a few months ago, he and his wife Sarah, 23, took a tour of the Akron City Hospital. While they were there, they asked if there was a way to view the birth of his son via a web broadcast.
They were directed to Kimberly Holm, a member of the corporate communications section of Summa Health Systems, who set up a meeting to discuss the request and determine what they would be able to do. This would be the first time this hospital would do anything like this and the staff was excited to do what they could.
Holm contacted other hospitals that had fulfilled similar requests for deployed service members. The whole process took approximately six weeks to complete and included 11 individuals from the corporate communications, public relations, audio-visual support, legal and nursing departments.
“When the idea first came up that the hospital was going to help us make it like Matthew was there, I was excited,” Sarah stated. “This way he could see an hour of video online and much quicker than if we did it ourselves. I felt like someone was looking out and helping us.” After the hospital’s capabilities were assessed and the group discussed the options available, Holm decided to allow the families to utilize some of the hospital’s digital video equipment. They were allowed to take footage of Sarah and their newborn son Benjamin after he was born. The family also brought their own equipment as a backup.
The hospital then set up a secure website for Hutchison to access the video footage from a computer in Iraq. Staff Sgt. Christopher Rogers, Regimental Combat Team-8’s data chief, exchanged emails with the hospital computer technicians so they could test the site.
With a successful test of the website and all of the equipment prepared and ready, all that was left was the arrival of Benjamin.
“This was a learning experience for all of us and we were very happy to do this for the Hutchisons,” Holm said.
Once Hutchison was informed that Sarah was in labor, he sat by the phone for the whole night waiting for the phone call. After hours of waiting patiently he heard it ring. Upon picking up the receiver, he heard the faint crying in the background of his newly born son.
Ecstatic with joy, Hutchison sat up for as long as he could, talking to Sarah and their parents, who filmed the birth. Knowing that everything was fine and everyone was healthy, he reluctantly hung up the phone.
“It gave us both a piece of mind to know that I would be able to see the birth shortly after the real thing instead of having to wait a few weeks for the digital video disk to arrive in the mail,” the 1998 Arch Bishop Hoban High School graduate stated.
“We were honored to be able to provide this service to Sarah and Matthew,” Holm said. “And now that we have a process in place we will be able to do the same for others serving overseas.”