Bryan County Fire and Emergency Services Battalion Chief Vicki Hooks said she’s been doing her job for 20 years and until Saturday could probably count on one hand the number of babies she’s helped deliver.
That changed Saturday morning, when dispatchers said a 23-year-old South Bryan woman was in labor and her water had broken.
Paramedic Patricia Phillips and EMT Ian Zieba responded within minutes, and got the woman into the ambulance.
Hooks responded as well, and drove the ambulance while Phillips and Zieba attended to the woman, whose husband is in the Army and was out of town at a military school. It’s routine for Bryan County EMS to make sure two people are in back and a third behind the wheel when taking a pregnant woman to the hospital.
“We always hope mom makes it to the hospital, but if mom doesn’t make it to the hospital...,” Hooks said. “Having two people in back means we have somebody to take care of the baby and somebody to take care of mom.”
So, after picking up the woman, the ambulance headed to Winn Army Community, but didn’t get very far.
“We got about 10 minutes down the road and baby decided she wasn’t going to wait until we got to Winn,” Hooks said.
She pulled over on Highway 144 not far from the Fort Stewart gate, where Phillips and Zieba took care of the delivery while Hooks got out to help.
The mother, whose name was provided, could not be reached, but the girl was born within “about two minutes,” after they stopped, Hooks said.
It was a routine delivery with no complications, she added. Had there been difficulties, the ambulance crew could have communicated with doctors at the hospital.
“This is something we’re trained to do, when we go through paramedic and EMT school that’s covered,” she said.
The baby weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces and after the paramedics ensured she was healthy, they gave the child, wrapped in blankets, to her mother and headed on to the hospital.
In all, the delivery took perhaps five minutes, Hooks said.
It was the sixth delivery she’s been a part of, she said. Phillip, a longtime paramedic, has probably delivered twice as many over a 25-year career.
“It’s just not something we do often, but it’s a very rewarding and very special occasion to get to share with your patient,” Hooks said. “We get a lot of praise, but we’re just there to catch the baby. Mama does all the work.”