One of my last memorable calls as a fire captain and paramedic occurred last spring, and it turned out to be a career highlight! Our company was dispatched to a home a few miles away for an “impending birth.” As we approached the scene I was reviewing in my mind some of my training on […]
One of my last memorable calls as a fire captain and paramedic occurred last spring, and it turned out to be a career highlight! Our company was dispatched to a home a few miles away for an “impending birth.” As we approached the scene I was reviewing in my mind some of my training on labor and delivery. After all, this would be a first for me in my 32 years on the job.
The young mother was close to delivering her second child, she had no prenatal care, and when asked which hospital she wanted to be transported to, she picked the one furthest away. I asked if the closest hospital would be okay, and she insisted on her first choice, which was a good twenty-minute transport.
As the firefighter crew loaded her onto the stretcher, I approached her husband and laid it on the line. I said, “Look, you have two choices. I can transport her to the hospital of her choice, and your baby will be delivered by an EMT and a paramedic, or you can convince her to go to the closest hospital and your baby can be delivered by a doctor. It’s your choice, which would you like?” He replied, “A doctor of course!” I then asked him to talk some sense into his wife, and after a short discussion he turned to me and said “the closest hospital.”
We carried her out of the house to the ambulance and headed to the hospital five minutes away, while getting our equipment open and in place, should the baby deliver. I glanced out of the ambulance window and could see the hospital in sight, but we just didn’t have enough time. The baby had decided to come into the world as we turned onto the ramp leading off the highway, just a quarter mile from the emergency room entrance!
Thankfully, it was an uncomplicated birth, and we cleared the airway, clamped and cut the cord, wiped him down with towels, bundled him up and placed him in mom’s arms. A nurse opened the rear door of the ambulance to see what was taking so long, and saw three happy faces and one crying newborn.
Here are some things you can do ahead of time to save those precious minutes in getting to the hospital when you call for an ambulance:
- Make sure your address is visible to the road from both directions. Reflective numbers are really important when trying to find an address at night.
- Have someone out by the road or flicking the porch light on & off to help the crew find your house.
- If you have a family member needing frequent transports to the hospital, see if you could re-arrange the bed situation from the second floor to the first floor of the house. Some people end up using the dining or living room for this. Carrying a patient down a set of stairs is time consuming, involves calling for a fire engine for more help, and is simply dangerous for the emergency personnel and the patient.
- Have a list of medical history, medications, allergies, etc to give to the ambulance crew. Posting a copy of this on the refrigerator is a good idea.
- The human body is an amazing thing. Listen to it and it will let you know when it’s in trouble. Don’t delay calling for help if you have chest pain, shortness of breath or an altered mental state. Giving it time and hoping it will go away only delays access to our medical system designed to save your life!