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West Hartford Firefighter/Paramedic: Delivering Baby was ‘Positive and Happy Experience’

From left: Lt. John Bigham, Firefighter/Paramedic Victoire Will, and Firefighter Ryan Shea. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (Not pictured: Apparatus Operator Bob Howe)

West Hartford Firefighter/Paramedic Victoire Will, and her fellow firefighters, speak about their ‘special delivery’ Sunday morning.

By Ronni Newton

West Hartford Firefighter/Paramedic Victoire Will had a chance to do something early Sunday morning that doesn’t happen very often: she delivered a baby.

Will, who joined the West Hartford Fire Department in January 2019 from the West Haven Fire Department, had previously worked for American Medical Response (AMR) and assisted with a delivery once or twice, but she said it had been years.

Will, Lt. John Bigham, and Firefighter Ryan Shea – who were at the scene Sunday – spoke with We-Ha.com Tuesday morning about the experience. Apparatus Operator Bob Howe was not on duty Tuesday.

“Being in the field for a while, and being used to being in high stress situations, training takes over,” Will said.

The call came in at 2:14 a.m. Sunday, indicating that a woman was in labor at a residence that was nearby, and crews arrived within four minutes.

The woman, pregnant with her second child, told responders that she had a fast delivery previously and that she felt the baby’s head, but Will said that her immediate exam didn’t show the head and the plan was to transport the woman to the hospital. Moments later, plans changed when the baby began crowning.

“It was a smooth process, considering,” Will said.

“We weren’t in the door even a minute before we were delivering,” Bigham said.

“We all kind of operated like a pit crew,” added Shea. He got the OB kit ready, the bulb syringe, the scalpel, and other items ready to go.

Bigham, who has a grown daughter of his own, has previously been involved with two deliveries, but not recently, and not since he has been part of the West Hartford Fire Department.

Shea just got married in October 2018, and doesn’t yet have any children. This was his second delivery experience with the West Hartford Fire Department, however. He assisted with a birth just weeks after his wedding last fall, and said he hopes that when he and his wife do have a child of their own, he’ll have a better idea what to expect.

Will handled the actual delivery, and a member of the AMR crew helped clamp and cut the cord. West Hartford Police were also on scene and provided assistance, she said.

No more than three or four minutes after crews arrived at the scene, the baby was born.

At one minute and five minutes after birth Will gave the baby an Apgar score, which she did not provide, but she said the baby was healthy and was able to have skin-to-skin contact with the mom. “I think she had a very healthy pregnancy. There was nothing unexpected.”

The husband was very relaxed throughout the process, Bigham said. As soon as the baby was born, he announced her name. The bag was ready for the trip to the hospital, including a little hat for the baby girl to wear. “I’ve been on other calls that have been much more chaotic for lesser things,” Bigham said.

According to NBC Connecticut, the baby girl, who was named Kennedy, weighed in at 6 pounds 10 ounces.

“Now it becomes a two-patient call,” said Will, who was then responsible for the medical condition of the mother and baby. She rode along in the AMR ambulance, and the pair was brought directly to labor and delivery at Hartford Hospital.

“They were really happy it was a quick response time, a smooth call in general,” Will said.

Within an hour, the entire experience was over. “It really was one of our fastest calls,” said Bigham.

All West Hartford Fire Department apparatus are stocked with identical equipment for the paramedics, including a birthing kit. Since the implementation of the paramedic program three years ago, there have been a handful of babies delivered, Bigham said.

Battalion Chief John Sokolowski said that once things calm down, the parents often stop by the station to thank the crew.

Will said she would be excited to deliver a baby again. “It’s a more positive and happy experience than other medical calls,” she said.

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