March 13, 2010

These EMTs can really deliver -- a baby

DENNIS HOEY

— By

click image to enlarge

Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette: Westbrook EMT Tony Cataldi holds three day old Aaryhanna Mariah Pettis at the Westbrook Public Safety Building Monday December 1, 2008. Heather Pettis, far left, thanked members of Westbrook ambulance 2 for the help in delivering Aaryhanna in the back of the ambulance on November 28. L to R are Pettis, the driver Ron Giroux, EMS Deputy Chief (he was not in the ambulance) EMT Karl Harmon and EMT Tony Cataldi.

Staff Writer

WESTBROOK — Karl Harmon, Tony Cataldi and Ron Giroux handled six pound, six ounce Aaryhanna Mariah Pettis like typically nervous new dads.

As the men hunched over the newborn, being ever so careful to cradle her neck, they shared their story of what it was like to deliver the child in the back of an ambulance.

It was the first field delivery experience for the Westbrook emergency medical technicians.

And it was 20-year-old Heather Pettis' first child. Pettis lives in Westbrook.

She gave birth to Aaryhanna on Nov. 28 -- at 2:22 a.m. Friday -- as the ambulance drove six miles from Westbrook toward Mercy Hospital's Fore River campus.

''Thank God they were there,'' Pettis said, shortly after pinning stork buttons on each of the men, during a brief ceremony Monday night at the city's fire station.

Pettis also presented the men with a photo of Aaryhanna and her vital statistics, in appreciation of their efforts.

Aaryhanna, who was wearing a pink jumpsuit and hoodie Monday night, measured 19 inches in length.

Pettis, a single mother, said her due date was Nov. 16.

''I was just sitting there screaming, hoping they would come. I was scared to death because I thought my dad was going to have to deliver my baby,'' Pettis said.

Pettis' ordeal began last Friday around 12:30 a.m. when she started having contractions.

After contacting her midwife, Pettis' mother, Nadine Pettis, and her stepfather, Mike Carr, got her into their van and started to drive to Mercy Hospital.

But, they had to pull over, after Pettis said she needed to go to the bathroom.

They stopped in front of a driveway on Eisenhower Drive in Westbrook, which just happened to be Giroux's house.

Giroux's wife gave birth to a baby girl just six months ago, and Giroux said he was worried because he thought the emergency call might involve his family.

Carr was waiting by the van, waving anxiously toward the ambulance crew as it pulled over.

Giroux said he felt relieved and confident that the baby would wait until they reached the hospital.

His wife was in labor for 24 hours.

''We figured it was just another mother in labor and that we'd give her a nice, quiet ride to the hospital,'' Harmon added.

After helping Pettis into the rear of the ambulance, it was a matter of a few minutes before Aaryhanna popped out.

''Aaryhanna definitely had no intention of waiting,'' Harmon said.

Nadine Pettis sat in the front seat of the ambulance with Giroux, the driver.

Carr followed them to the hospital in his van.

Ron Jones, chief of the city's Emergency Medical Services, said it was fitting that the child was born in a new ambulance. It was purchased in July.

To mark the occasion, Jones stuck a stork emblem on the ambulance.

''One of the great things we get to do is bring a new life into the world,'' said Jones, who has helped deliver six babies during his 30-year career. ''She's a little sweetheart.''

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

dhoey@pressherald.com

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