Paramedic Brings New Life Into World

Under ideal circumstances, the pregnant woman would have been taken to Huntington Hospital, where a team of obstetric experts was prepped and ready to deliver her baby. But nature, sometimes, has its own timetable — especially in the case of childbirth.
San Marino firefighter-paramedic Shawn Stewart, faced with a woman in the advanced stages of labor two weeks ago, made the correct call to keep her right where she was, and within a few minutes, a healthy baby boy came howling to life on the floor of his new bedroom.
“There are so many things that can go wrong,” Fire Chief Mario Rueda said. “A paramedic can make a difference.”
The Fire Department received the emergency call about a woman in labor at a home near the intersection of El Molino Avenue and Plymouth Road on the morning of Sept. 15. San Marino’s engine and ambulance responded, with Stewart riding shotgun on the ambulance, assigned to patient care.
When the crew raced to the top of the stairs in the home, they found a 36-year-old woman lying on the floor of the hallway and her husband calling out, “We’re going to have a baby!”
Stewart has had many false alarms in such cases, but he quickly assessed that this wasn’t going to be one of them. Her water had broken, and her contractions were two minutes apart, lasting about 45 seconds. This was her fourth child, so she probably knew what she was talking about when she said she was ready to bear down.
“It was a critical decision that Sean made,” said Dominic Petta, the captain on the scene. “He knew the way she was presenting to deliver upstairs in that environment instead of trying to get in the back of the ambulance.”
Stewart said he feared they would never make it to Huntington Hospital, and he knew that trying to deliver a baby in the cramped quarters of a speeding vehicle would be far from optimal. Further, he said, “I wanted to have a calming presence for her. It’s a very intimate situation for a mom having a baby. You don’t want to add to the panic she’s already having.”
The woman was gently moved into an adjacent bedroom — ironically, the nursery that had been prepared for this baby — and the firefighters broke out their sterilized obstetrics kit. The woman was instructed to push on the next contraction, but the baby came even sooner, facedown, and was ushered into the world by Stewart, who manipulated its shoulders so it could clear the birth canal.
The little boy soon let loose a wail — a satisfying sound to the six firefighters in the room.
“Now you have two patients; you have to take care of the mother,” Stewart said. “It’s nice to have all hands on deck.”
Baby and mom were then transported to Huntington Hospital for further care.
Stewart certainly had ample training for the task. While in paramedic school, he said, he assisted in the delivery of two babies at a teaching hospital in Riverside. Also, he and his wife have two children, and he assisted in the birth of his son.
As a firefighter and paramedic, Stewart added, “you see so much, whether it’s trauma or car accidents, even medical problems. When you get to share something that is such a blessing, such an uplifting moment, it’s definitely great.”
It was the second notable success story for the San Marino Fire Department this year. In June, firefighters and policeman Victor Gee saved a 3-year-old girl who nearly drowned in the family pool.
Petta, who was on duty for both incidents, said of the delivery of the baby, “It was seamless. All the training … that’s when you get back [to the station] and everybody feels great that it went smoothly.”

Leave a Reply