QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Ambulances don’t keep their “new car” atmosphere for very long. They travel tens of thousands of miles, carrying passengers in all manner of conditions. No matter the case, or the size of the emergency services department, it never takes long to break one in.
Take the new ambulance at Bay Ridge Rescue Squad as an example. It only took that one a week – and a birth.
“It doesn’t have a new car smell,” said Department Captain Shane Irwin on Friday. “It has a new baby smell.”
Last week, Irwin and medical technician Brian Glasser received a late-night call: A woman, 38 weeks pregnant with her third child, had just had her water break at 11:30 p.m., and needed to get to Glens Falls Hospital as soon as possible. Irwin and Glasser arrived quickly, with Fire Chief Jack Tims staying behind to watch her other two kids.
With Glasser behind the wheel, the ambulance embarked toward Glens Falls. The baby’s head was already emerging by the two-minute mark. From there, it didn’t take long.
“By the time we got to the traffic circle in Glens Falls, the baby was fully born, in my hands, screaming and crying,” Irwin recounted. “It made a big mess back there.”
Irwin is no stranger to childbirth on the job. In his time with Bay Ridge, he estimates helping deliver between 10 and 15 babies. Most of those happen in the home he responds to a call at, or at the hospital within moments of arrival.
Irwin and all of his EMS personnel are well-versed in delivery, just like they are in stopping a wound from bleeding or setting a bone in place. It’s all part of the job, and all part of medical services training. But situations like this aren’t Irwin’s favorite, due in large part to the new risks they create.
“Suddenly, you’ve gone from one patient to two. That’s twice as much possibility that things could go wrong.”
In this case, there was some technical difficulty as the ambulance made its way to the hospital. The umbilical cord was wrapped twice around the baby’s neck, and Irwin had to unravel it while the ambulance was moving; and while yelling for Glasser to drive faster.
The EMS crew had called ahead to let Glens Falls Hospital know that a late-night delivery was on the way. By the time the ambulance pulled up at the building, hospital snuggery staff were out front, ready to receive mother and child.
“As soon as the doors opened, all I saw was a snuggery nurse’s nametag,” Irwin said. “I said, ‘Here you go. This is a baby; he’s yours. I’m done.'”
The ambulance where a life was brought into the world was only a week old. It replaced a 9-year-old ambulance that Irwin said was practically falling apart.
Getting new vehicles and equipment is tough for an EMS team. They’re not recognized as essential services, meaning that fire, police and sanitation services get resources that Bay Ridge and departments like it don’t. Instead, a lot of costs had to be offset to make it happen, adding up to a $210,000 price tag.
Another ambulance the department uses is five years old, and showing more than its share of age as well. Bay Ridge vehicles travel far, bringing some patients as far south as Albany, depending on the situation. The department also supports others in many emergency situations. Just this week, Bay Ridge traveled a half-hour to Whitehall, to assist with a large structure fire. It’s all in the life of a department that answers between 2,300 and 2,500 calls per year.
“We have outstanding people here.”
As for the mother and child he won’t soon forget, the last Irwin heard was on Tuesday. That update was that both mom and baby were both back at home, safe and healthy.
“I said to her, ‘You know, if you haven’t picked out a name yet, Shane’s a good name. Just sayin’,” Irwin said with a laugh.