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Oh baby! Plaudits for firefighters' roadside delivery

Published: 18th December 2009

Four Sydney firefighters on their way to a buck's weekend on the Mid North Coast put their emergency training to good use when they stopped to help a motorist and ended up delivering a baby on the side of the Pacific Highway.

Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan and NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) Commissioner Greg Mullins today praised the four NSWFB firefighters who were travelling north to Crescent Head when they were called on as impromptu midwives, delivering a healthy baby boy.

The four off-duty officers – Joe Hastie and Nathan Begley from City of Sydney Fire Station, Robert Pearce from Narrabeen Fire Station and Ben Donald from Ryde Fire Station – were among a group of 25 men travelling to Crescent Head when they came across mother-to-be, Jodie Gardner, in labour on Saturday, November 28 about 3pm.

"Ms Gardner was in a car on the side of the highway, when the driver flagged down the first car that passed, which fortunately happened to be soon-to-be bridegroom Joe Hastie and his mates," Mr Whan said.

"The firefighters showed skill and compassion, creating a makeshift 'labour ward' by using their surfboards for shade and privacy and ensuring Ms Gardner had water, ice and towels. 

"Joe relayed instructions from a NSW Ambulance Triple Zero call-taker, Nathan coached the mother through labour, Robert acted as midwife to catch the baby on delivery and Ben took on the role of neonatal nurse to ensure the baby's airways were clear. 

"When Ambulance paramedics arrived on scene they cut the umbilical cord. Before departing with mother and son to Port Macquarie hospital, they congratulated the four off-duty officers for their efforts.

"This was a great team effort by our off-duty firefighters and Ambulance staff both over the phone and on site."

The new mother of three thanked her delivery team by naming her son Nathan Robert Joseph. The fourth firefighter, Ben, missed out as he was known throughout the delivery only by his nickname, 'Millhouse'.

Minister Whan said while it was unusual for firefighters to assist at births, the first aid skills and training all firefighters possessed were adaptable to many emergencies.

"Firefighters are here to help the community in any way they can and while that usually means putting out fires or rescuing people from car accidents, there are occasions when they deliver babies, too," Minister Whan said.

NSWFB Commissioner Greg Mullins said the reports from the attending paramedics confirmed that the firefighters had done a great job and managed the scene very well. 

"We are used to seeing examples of teamwork and cooperation between the emergency services but this one was a little unusual," he said. 

"It clearly shows the value of first aid training for everyone in the community and the importance of dialling Triple Zero and following first aid instructions from the ambulance call taker for any medical emergency."

"We are delighted to hear reports that baby Nathan is doing well and is now home at Laurieton with his mum and two brothers," Commissioner Mullins said.