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Paramedics help woman giving birth inside locked house

By Seth Burkett 340-2355

In 25 years of fire fighting, Decatur fire Lt. Harmon Hale said he's responded to a lot of emergencies, but he's never, ever helped deliver a baby.

Fortunately, paramedics Wen-dy Stetler and Lyle Willits have a little more experience with pregnancy emergencies.

They were among Hale's team from Station 5 that was dispatched Monday morning to assist a woman who went into labor and gave birth in her home.

Behind locked doors on Vinca Street Southwest, the young woman was immobile on the bathroom floor speaking with 911 operators, Stetler said. Firefighters responding to the 10:30 a.m. call forced the front door open so Stetler and Willits could get inside.

"We didn't know the status of the baby, and newborns need a lot of attention right when they're born. We made a judgment call to use forcible entry to get in and get to the mother and baby," said Stetler.

The baby was already delivered, leaving the paramedics to cut the umbilical cord, suction the newborn's airways and check its condition, Hale said.

"They (the mother and child) did wonderful," Stetler said. "We took a look to make sure the breathing was good and it was a good, pink color, and the baby was doing great and seemed very healthy. The mother's vitals were all in the normal limits, so she seemed to be doing very well. I was very happy. Me and Lyle work well together, and I think she (the mother) did a great job."

The pregnancy was full term, with the due date only a few days away, she said. An ambulance took the mother and baby to Decatur General Hospital.

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