Paramedics from a small town ambulance service revive a 24 week gestational baby born at home that was delivered by a police officer first responder.
24 weeks! Born at home!
Simsbury Ambulance paramedics Barbara Carter and Karin Stewart have a great working relationship. Each usually comes in an half hour before crew change to relieve the other. One Monday evening last month shortly after Carter arrived to relieve Stewart a call came in for “vaginal bleeding.” Stewart accompanied Carter in the fly car to see if an extra hand was needed and to be able to return the fly car to the base should Carter need to accompany the ambulance crew to the hospital. Both their hearts raced when, just before their arrival on scene, came the update “baby born.”
When they entered the house, Simsbury Police Department officer and first responder Tim May handed Carter a profoundly premature dusky 24-week gestational infant. The baby, who weighed only 0.77 kilograms, wasn’t much longer than Carter’s outstretched hand. Call it training, call it education, or call it grace under pressure, Carter and Stewart, mothers themselves, did what EMS responders do. They went to work. They wrapped the child in a towel, used a bulb syringe to clear secretions from its airway, assisted the baby’s struggling ventilations and cut the umbilical chord. While Simsbury EMTs Chris Collins and Erin Komidar stayed to care for the mother with Granby Ambulance responding to the scene as mutual aid, Stewart and Carter quickly moved the child to the Simsbury ambulance and EMT Donna Anderson began the urgent transport to John Dempsey Hospital.
The baby’s oxygen saturation (the SPO2 sensor wrapped around its foot) was in the 80’s. The child was sluggish and cyanotic. Carter noticed its heart rate falling, down to 80, then 76, 72… She began chest compressions with a single finger on the baby’s sternum. Stewart continued ventilating with a neonatal bag-valve mask. Neither paramedic was certain the child was even big enough to be viable, but they were cheered as “the fighter kid,” as Stewart came to refer to the baby, seemed to clench its fists. The duskiness slowly turned to pink.
The crew, who provided crucial early notification to John Dempsey Hospital of the premature birth, arrived at JDH to find an open ED door and the hospital’s NICU team and ED staffs awaiting their precious patient. The efforts of the Simsbury crew ensured the child was kept viable long enough that the team was able to successfully resuscitate and stabilize the child, who now with confirmed pulse and blood pressure, was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The child survived the critical first 24 hours and continues to grow and make progress.
R.N. Beth Thompson, a member of the NICU team called the EMS crew’s response “remarkable.” John Dempsey EMS Director Richard Kamin cited the crew’s hard work and diligence that paid off when it counted most. “This is what EMS is all about,” he said. Both medics had effusive praise for the hospital response. “I was so impressed with the staff and equipment that was waiting for us when we arrived,” Carter said. “They were great!” said Stewart.