As first responders, White Rock Fire Rescue crews have to be prepared to deal with just about anything.
It could be bringing a blaze in a building under control – but with White Rock’s large seniors demographic it’s more likely, when you see and hear the large red trucks racing to a scene, that they’re being called to assist someone who has fallen, is short of breath or experiencing chest pains.
Once in a blue moon it’s a much happier incident, according to Captain Cordell Fulton – whose team provided a case in point when they helped deliver a baby to a White Rock resident on Tuesday, Jan 11.
It was about 3 p.m., he said, when he and his three-person crew (firefighters Cory McKinnon and Scott Pearson and driver Bira Bindra) responded to a call about a woman going into labour in the 15400 block of Columbia Avenue.
Attending such calls is part of firefighters’ first-responder training, Fulton said, although it may happen only once in a 30-year career (after attending three births in his 28 years in the profession he’s far ahead of the average).
“We got there in our usual two to four minutes and found the woman on the floor of a very small house on the north side of Columbia,” he said.
“She’s placed herself down there and wasn’t able to move,” he said. “It had been called in by her boyfriend, who’d been a little panicky after she’d started going into labour. According to information we got from the mother, the baby was a few weeks premature.”
Paramedics had yet to arrive when the WRFR crew got there, but, fortunately, the labour went smoothly and didn’t require any intervention – and with McKinnon, and Pearson’s assistance, the woman gave birth to a girl within about four minutes of their arrival.
“The mom was having contractions and telling us the baby was on the way – it all happened very naturally,” McKinnon said.
“Luckily the baby was breathing normally – and started crying when she came out,” he added.
“She appeared to be healthy. We didn’t have any ability to weigh her, but we wrapped her up in a blanket to keep her warm and gave her to the mother to hold until the paramedics could get there and get them to hospital.”
While this was the first time he’d encountered a birth during a work shift, McKinnon said he and his wife have two children.
“So I had some experience in my personal life, and it wasn’t the mother’s first baby either,” he said.
“She was in good spirits and talking to the baby right after she was born. Everybody was very happy.”
Fire Chief Norm MacLeod said he was happy, too, to be able to share the outcome of the incident.
“In a sea of bad news, it’s nice to be able to pass on something that’s a little lighter,” he said.
“So many calls are on the other sign of the coin, it’s good to be able to celebrate something more positive.”