It’s been a year of baby duty for paramedics

Laconia Daily Sun
Published: 1/22/2021 5:21:54 PM

The first three of Diaka Conde’s children were born a week after their due date, so she didn’t have any reservations about taking appointments at her Laconia salon on Oct. 25 of last year. After all, her fourth child – her first daughter – wasn’t due until Oct. 31.

“In the morning I started getting cramping,” Conde said, but she wasn’t concerned. “I thought it was a false alarm. I had two clients that day and I was like, anyway, let me go to work.” By the time she finished braiding her first client’s hair, she knew that the alarm was real.

Conde’s daughter, a healthy 6-pound baby they call Diamond, was delivered in a Laconia Fire Department ambulance that barely made it in time. It was one of four babies that city paramedics delivered within a 12-month period, the most recent occurring on Jan. 11. That’s unusual, said Chief Kirk Beattie, as many paramedics go their entire career without seeing a birth outside of a hospital. Laconia, though, will likely continue to be an outlier in this regard, since Lakes Region General Hospital closed its maternity ward on May 30, 2018.

In two of those four recent births, they would have still occurred in the field even if LRGH, located within the city, was still operating its maternity ward. With the other two, Beattie said, the ambulance made it well past the city limits, meaning that there would have been plenty of time to get the mother to LRGH instead of Concord Hospital, which is where most local expectant women are directed.

Beattie said four in a one-year span is a lot, but he said it’s probably less of an aberration and more an indicator of things to come.

“We’ve done four in 12 months, I would say we haven’t done four in the last five or six years combined,” Beattie said. The city’s ambulances are also making more routine transports to Concord Hospital for other maternity issues, he said. “If women are late in their pregnancy and if there’s anything that might be pregnancy related, we are transporting them to Concord, which is a new thing for us as well. We do a lot more of those than we ever have before.”

Though delivering a baby isn’t as common as other calls, Beattie said it’s a situation that his paramedics are prepared to handle. As part of their certification, paramedics spend time training in maternity wards, helping mothers in labor and caring for newborn infants.

“A lot of our personnel has had quite a bit of training on it,” Beattie said. “They are comfortable with the process and with the procedures. They just want it to go well. If every goes well, it’s a very positive thing.”

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