At around 8 p.m., firefighters the engine company, located at 97-28 43rd Avenue, received a call indicating that a woman was vaginally bleeding, and that her baby but when the engine arrived, the firefighters discovered that the call was incorrect. The woman was in labor, and the six firefighters arrived in the middle of a contraction.
“When we got there, the woman was lying on her back and the baby was crowning,” said Andrew Holzmaier. “We could see the baby’s head, and we recognized that birth was imminent.”
Fortunately for the mother, three of the six responders are trained nurses. They saw the first contraction end and the baby’s head submerge back into the mother, but they knew that she was in labor, and were ready to guide the baby out when the next and final contraction began.
The firefighter s arranged towels and a curtain around the mother, as Holzmaier used his fingers to create a gap between the mother’s vaginal wall and the baby itself. Francis Ruebenacker and Ricardo Remon, the two other firefighters with nurse training, prepared for the baby’s birth by securing the bulb syringe and clamps for the umbilical cord.
When the baby’s head emerged from his mother, the firefighters saw that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. The cord was quickly removed, and the baby was delivered without incident.
“We did our best to take care of the mother and keep the baby warm and dry,” said Ruebenacker, who also works as a nurse. “The mother was great. She was a champion.”
“The baby was healthy, it started breathing and crying, and we picked him up to show him to his mother,” said Holzmaier. “She didn’t speak English, but she smiled, and we put it on her chest. She started laughing.”
Paramedics and EMT’s arrived shortly after the birth, and they took the mother and her son to a hospital for further care, but the memory is something that will stay with the firefighters.
“I know that it’s nice to have someone there for you when you deliver a baby,” said Remon. “This isn’t something that happens that often, and the mother is lucky that she got the right group of guys to respond.”
“The whole experience was surreal,” said Ruebenacker. “I’ve been in the delivery room with my wife, but this was much different. “It was a very uplifting experience. We see a lot of tragedy on this job, and it was nice that we could do something like this.”