On any other morning wrought with cold, sleet and icy roads, Pam Tucker would be in Columbia County’s Emergency Operations Center directing the county’s response.
But a 3 a.m. phone call Wednesday is the only thing that could change the county’s Emergency and Operations Division director’s plan.
It was the impending birth of her first grandchild.
“Your adrenaline starts pumping,” Tucker said from the hospital with her son and daughter-in-law Andrew and Lauren Smith. “Excitement sets in. Happiness. Your heart pounds a little bit. And worry that the roads are going to be okay for them because they are on the road.”
Aria Rose Smith arrived at 2:06 p.m. Wednesday, weighing in at a healthy 7 pounds, 11 ounces.
Tucker was preparing to be at the EOC by 6 a.m. But when a firefighter arrived to take her to work, Tucker said she had second thoughts.
“I got in the truck and just decided I had to be (at the hospital),” Tucker said, adding she called Deputy Director Rusty Welsh to fill in. “(Fire department Battalion Chief) Danny Kuhlmann drove me straight to the hospital.”
Tucker said she’s thankful that she and her son’s in-laws arrived at University Hospital just after 6 a.m. and before the roads became a dangerous icy mess.
All the pre-planning Tucker and her staff have done made it easy for her to bow out and head for the hospital instead of the EOC.
“It was crazy,” Tucker said. “All I’ve been doing for two days was planning for the ice. I had everything set-up (Monday). Every thing was ready to go.
“So pretty much I knew that everything was in place and ready to go. So that made me feel better.”
Tucker said she’s confident in Welsh and her administrative specialist Suzie Hughes to handle the “historic” ice event.
But it only makes sense that Tucker’s grandchild would make a grand entrance during such a historic weather event.
“Feb. 12 is burned in my head already,” Tucker said while waiting for Aria to arrive. “This is the first grandchild on both sides and the first great-grandchild on both sides. It would take more than an ice storm to keep me away.”
Even while she was away, Tucker said she was still keeping up with all the storm information from the hospital.
But she’s thankful to her colleagues for taking over so she could enjoy one of the most important days of her life.
“Everybody has just been very supportive so that I don’t have to miss this thing you can’t repeat,” Tucker said. “This is a life event.
“I have really missed a lot in my life, in the 36 years I’ve done this work. I’ve missed a lot of key things. I’m so happy I’m not having to miss this.”