Written by Ron Scaglia Thursday, 04 April 2013 00:00
In the back of a South Farmingdale ambulance, a woman was in labor about to give birth. The ambulance was racing to get to the hospital, but the baby wasn’t going to wait that long. The emergency medical technician called on his training to help deliver the baby and keep both the newborn and mom safe. It sounds like a scene from a movie or television show, but for four members of the South Farmingdale Fire Department, the drama was all too real.
“It was crazy but I had to keep myself composed,” said Captain Michael Mackie, a firefighter and EMT, who responded to the call along with three others. “I had my responsibility and a job to do.”
The drama began late on a Saturday evening, when the South Farmingdale Fire Department received a call for an active maternity at an apartment building in Amityville. Mackie, along with firefighters John Boklak, Bryan Purpora and Phil Frontino responded to the call. The crew arrived on the scene, and the expecting mom was having contractions three minutes apart. The emergency responders transported the woman 75 yards from her apartment to the ambulance, which would soon be speeding along Sunrise Highway towards Good Samaritan Hospital with Boklak driving as Purpora gave updates to the dispatcher. However, when it reached the Robert Moses Causeway, the mom had a large contraction and it became apparent that the ambulance was not going to arrive in time. The ambulance pulled over on the side of the causeway, and the baby boy was born at 12:33 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Mackie held the infant as Frontino cut the umbilical cord.
“The adrenaline starts going,” said Mackie. “Everybody is a little nervous but it’s a job for us. Everyone did their jobs. I couldn’t ask for a more responsible crew.”
Mackie has been a firefighter since 2004 and an EMT for about a year and a half. Although, he is trained for such an emergency, when it actually presents itself, there are anxious moments.
“It’s very nerve racking when it comes to childbirth,” he said.
However, his nerves eased a bit when he heard the sound of a baby crying, and his felt much easier when he spoke to the emergency room doctors who confirmed that everything was fine. The following day, Mackie and crew visited both mom and child, who were both doing fine.
“Mom said, ‘Thank you,’” Mackie recounted. “She never thought it was my first time delivering a baby.’
Mackie had come close once before, but in that situation, the ambulance arrived at the hospital just in time. Mackie’s fiancée Kristin was with him on that close call, but was not on duty for his first delivery, but is quite proud of him. The couple is planning a wedding for 2014.
And if there is a childbirth in their future, Mackie can say, “Been there, done that.” But if he needs assistance, he knows three very capable firemen who have a bit of experience in such situations.