Breech baby born in ambulance outside Helston Spar shop
7:00am Friday 14th September 2012 in Helston
A baby boy owes his life to the skill and professionalism of the emergency services after being delivered breech in the back of an ambulance outside Helston’s Spar shop.
Riley George Robin Hurren had to have heart massage and emergency resuscitation after being born not breathing during the early hours of last Thursday. New mum Nicola, who remains with her first child this week in the neonatal unit of Truro’s Royal Cornwall Hospital, said: “It felt like time stood still. When I heard the cry – I can’t explain the feeling. It was quite overwhelming.”
Riley had not been due for another two and a half weeks, so when Nicola, 25, went to bed with mild irregular contractions she was not concerned. Fortunately Nicola had been staying with her parents in Albion Road so when her waters suddenly broke at 12.45am she immediately went for help.
Things developed quickly and by the time Nicola’s dad Dave had fetched the car her mum had called an ambulance, as her contractions were already 45 seconds apart.
While Dave was on the phone to ambulance control room, their “fantastic” neighbour Claire French, a nurse, helped until the paramedics got there. Described by Dave as “a real Godsend,” the paramedics arrived from Penzance in just 20 minutes to find Nicola wanting to push and the baby’s foot already visible – indicating he was in the breech position.
“It moved from being a normal birth to a potentially dangerous situation,” said Dave.
With one paramedic on the phone to a midwife, who also had to come from Penzance, contingency plans were being made – a search and rescue helicopter from RNAS Culdrose even being considered at one stage, although this was ruled out due to the time it would take to be made ready.
Nicola eventually managed to get downstairs between contractions – stopping for two on the way down – by which time a third paramedic had arrived.
With the ambulance barely away from the house, however, there was a call from the back that things had progressed further and they needed to pull over. The ambulance stopped in the car park of Spar which, ironically, Nicola herself had lived above as a child.
Dave said: “It was quite an alarming sight. Nicola was in quite some distress, with the baby’s body out and the head stuck fast. The baby’s body was blue and limp – it was not looking good at this point.
“They got the oxygen ready as it was obvious the baby would need assistance when delivered.”
Just minutes after the arrival of the midwife, baby Riley was born at 1.57am – just one hour and 12 minutes after the water’s broke.
“It was still quite a dire situation,” said Dave. “I was listening out for a cry which wasn’t coming. After what seemed like an age, but was probably a couple of minutes, we heard a cry from the back and the midwife had revived him.
“It was very alarming for me, but I was just in awe of the way these people handled the situation. That’s what moved me so much. I fully believe if they weren’t as professional and planned I don’t think I would be able to give my grandson a cuddle today.”
He described NHS workers as “unsung heroes,” saying he hoped they would get the recognition they deserved.
“I’m forever in their debt,” he said. Weighing 5lb 7.5oz, Riley was a little underweight and has been getting help from the neonatal unit at the Treliske hospital with feeding.
Speaking from her hospital bed, former St Michael’s Primary and Helston Community College pupil Nicola told the Packet: “Thank you for everything the paramedics and midwife did for me and my baby boy’s safe arrival. If they had not been so calm then he wouldn’t be here today.
“Considering he was breech, they acted as if they had done it many times but it was their first. I just wanted to acknowledge the hard work paramedics and midwives do to keep people safe.”
She also thanked the staff at the neonatal unit, describing them as “absolutely fantastic.”