Thursday 22 February 2018

Woman gives birth at 1,000 feet in helicopter dash to hospital

Lucy Christie

A WOMAN has given birth in a helicopter at 1,000ft after failing to get to hospital in time from her remote island home.

A rescue helicopter crew was called to take the mother-to-be from Unst in the far north of Scotland to the nearest maternity ward but ended up delivering the boy themselves.

The mother and father were picked up from Unst, Britain's most northerly island located in Shetland, before arriving safely at Lerwick Hospital at 6.40am with their 7lb newborn.

The baby had been delivered by winchman paramedic Marcus Wigfull 10 minutes earlier.

Alex Dodge, watch manager at Shetland Coastguard, said: "This is the first time that a baby has been delivered on the Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Sumburgh in the Shetland Islands.

"We would like to congratulate the mother and father on the birth of their son, who is reported to be doing well."

The Coastguard received a call from the unnamed mother's doctor at 4.30am, asking about ferry times from Unst as she was in labour. They decided instead to launch the helicopter, which landed 90-minutes later and took the couple on board.

The baby could not wait and was delivered at 6.30am at 1,000ft above a small island called Lunna Holm.

Mr Wigfull said he visited maternity wards during his paramedic training but it was his first delivery on a helicopter.

"To be honest, I wasn't nervous. It all happened so quickly and my training just kicked in. It all went very smoothly. There were no complications.

"We knew we had about a 15 to 20-minute transfer time to the hospital, but within five minutes of bringing the mother on board we realised we weren't going to make it to the hospital."

The 40-year-old, who has two children aged five and 10, said of the woman: "She did everything she was asked to do and the father was very supportive."

The baby was delivered in about two minutes, he said.

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