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Paramedic helps mom deliver baby in parking lot at Royal Columbian Hospital

“Instead of calling a time of death, I called a time of life, which I thought was a pretty unique experience.”
Royal Columbian Hospital file
A Coquitlam woman delivered her baby in Royal Columbian Hospital's parking lot - with help from a paramedic.

A paramedic with the BC Ambulance Service happened to be in the right place at the right time when a Coquitlam mom-to-be gave birth in Royal Columbian Hospital’s parking lot.

Paramedic Sara Stone was on her way to retrieve her wallet from the ambulance so she could buy a coffee when a vehicle came blasting into the parking lot of the New Westminster hospital.

“I heard someone blaring their horn and speeding into the parking lot. And this man rolled down his window and started yelling to get a doctor,” she said. “When he opened the door of his car, I heard his wife screaming, and I quickly realized what was going on.”

Stone went into the hospital to get gloves and to inform staff of what was going on, and quickly returned to the parking lot.

“I arrived just in time. I saw baby's head start to crown and come out,” she said. “Then, unfortunately, he did get stuck a bit, which was unfortunate. So then I did my training and my job and I helped assist the baby out and into the world.”

Once the baby made his dramatic entrance, Stone said she helped calm the mother and used her training to assist the baby.

“Once out, her baby boy sure took his time to cry,” she said. “With stimulation and holding him next to me, eventually he led out some chirps and then started doing some yoga-looking stretching.”

In response to the birth occurring in the parking lot on the afternoon of Tuesday, Aug. 23, Royal Columbian Hospital called a Code Pink. Soon after the delivery, a crowd of hospital staff joined Stone in the parking lot.

“Her doctor actually was there, her maternity doctor, and she came down,” she said. “She let me clamp the cord and hold the baby and she cut the cord, and we transported baby out ASAP.”

Mom and baby were taken to a trauma unit, and Stone remained with them for another hour.

“I love to stay with my patients and really just make sure they feel safe and cared for,” she said. “And I made sure that I updated her on the baby. Even though he was right beside her, she couldn't see him because there was bodies in the way. She was a nursing student, so I told her the vitals of the baby and what his skin colour was and everything like that to keep her up-to-date. And once they got a weight, I told her the weight.”

Stone, a Port Coquitlam resident, has been working with BC Emergency Health Services for about a year. This was her first delivery.

“It's definitely a memorable experience for us as paramedics because we deal with so much stuff, right? We deal with a lot of traumatic things that the public doesn't need to know about. But it's a very honourable experience to be able to do something so good for the world, to be able to have a happy ending,” she said. “Instead of calling a time of death, I called a time of life, which I thought was a pretty unique experience.”

In the coming weeks, BCEHS will present Stone with a “stork pin”, a longstanding tradition that occurs after its staff help deliver a baby.

“It was it was definitely the most thrilling and like happy-thrilling, exciting moment of my medical career thus far,” she said. “It's just a really cool experience to be in the job that I'm in, and I’m so proud to be a paramedic. We will never get bored with our jobs.”

According to BCEHS, dispatchers and paramedics are emergency medical professionals who are trained to provide childbirth directions and assistance, whether by coaching over the phone or once paramedics arrive on scene.

BCEHS said it responds to an average of 1,450 pregnancy and childbirth-related calls each year – and out-of-hospital births in ambulances and side-of-the-road deliveries are quite common in B.C.

Stone said the couple told her it was their second child, and they thought they had enough time to make it to Royal Columbian Hospital. She’s grateful she happened to be in the right place at the right time to help.

“I did what any paramedic would have done, given the opportunity and the circumstance, but I'm really grateful that it was me in those in those shoes and that I got to help this family deliver this baby,” she said. “It was really the mom that did all the work pushing; I just helped her out. It was it was such a cool and honourable thing to be a part of, and I'm so glad that it ended up well and they are safe and healthy.”