Paramedics the world over have a common need to share experiences. Sit two or more paramedics in a room for more that 15 minutes and the phrase “I had this job once”or “can you remember that job” is virtually guaranteed to crop up.
I thought it would be a nice idea to go back over my few years in the sevice in a bit of a series. Every so often, I will invite you into the world of the station rest room. Imagine for a moment that you are a new trainee and we are having a strangely quiet day and there are a couple of crews on station AT THE SAME TIME. We are all having a bit of a laugh when I decide to tell you the story of the first baby I ever “delivered”
I was an advanced technician at the time (the equivalent of an EMT-B, I think). I had only been out of training school a couple of months and myself and my crewmate (lets call him Tom) were dispatched to a pregnant lady wanting to push! My adrenaline started as soon as I saw the message on the computer screen in the cab. I was used to being constantly ribbed by the more experienced crews who have had years of being sent to maternity jobs only to find that the patient who is “wanting to push” is actually standing on the front step, suitcase in hand, waiting for her lift to the maternity department. Whereas I was still, young (ish), keen and thinking that surely if someone rings 999, then it must be an emergency and the head must be on its way out.
So, as per usual for me at that time, we arrived on scene and I launched myself out of the cab, ran to the back of the ambulance and grabbed the first response bag and a maternity pack (because this might be an imminent delivery!!!). Then as a deftly ran to the house, noticing that there was actually no one waiting for thier lift to maternity, I thought this might actually be my first delivery.
On entering the house, I saw a full term lady at the top of the stairs, trying to make it down in between contractions. She certainly seemed to be getting close to the moment of no transport (i.e. where we decide it is safer to stay put and deliver the baby rather than try to do it in the back of the ambulance at the side of the motorway. I quicky did all the required initial checks and assessment and was joined by Tom (a veteran in the service and about as calm as you could ever get). I think he took one look at my adrenaline fuelled red face and he knew that I was both very excited and very scared at the same time. Tom thought that we should be able to get her to the maternity unit so suggested that we get her straight on the ambulance. He turned around and made off to the ambulance to get the back ready, when the lady said that she needed to go to the toilet before she came out to the ambulance. I was about to say that I thought she should hold on if she could when Tom said, “yeah, no problem love”.
Now, me being new and keen and just out of school and thinking I knew everything, I thought I should point out to Tom that I had been taught that you should never let a woman in imminient delivery of her baby go to the toilet, as the need to open her bowels could actually be baby about to make an appearance.
Tom took one look at me and said ” look son, I have delivered more than 30 babies in my time and non have taken a swan dive down a toilet, she will be fine”
Okay then…… however, about 30 seconds later screams of help came from the downstairs toliet. I ran in to see our patient frantically holding onto the umbilical cord of her baby as her newborn son was having his first wash in the toilet bowel.
Because I was such a highly trained professional, my considered solution to this was to shout for Tom who was just coming back into the house
“Tom, quick!!! what should I do???”
With a slight smile on his face and still not raising his pulse above 80 beats per minute, he just said
“well, bloody pull him out then”
I grabbed onto baby and gently lifted him from the toilet bowel,quickly using clean towels to clean him off and dry him, before wrapping him in another towel and giving him to his rather surprised mother. Dad came into the bathroom at this point to help cut the cord and see his beautiful new son, perfect in every way other than a little bumb on his forehead from his dive into the world!
We arranged for the community midwives to come out and follow up, and we waiting on scene till they arrived 20 minutes later. As you can imagine, the time it took for the midwives to arrive, was filled with talking to mum and dad about how their poor son is ever going to live the fact down that he was born into a toilet. I can imagine the speech his dad gives at his wedding already.
Baby didnt have to go to hospital, mum and baby were both doing well as we left, and for the next three years I got Christmas cards and photos from the family which I still keep in my keepsake box on station (sad I know, but its nice to look back on!)