FDNY Members Save Newborn in Cardiac Arrest
Paramedic Pablo Rivera (left) and Paramedic Christopher Wischerth
FDNY members always are ready for anything, and that proved true on March 21, when they received a call for a mother who had just given birth at 24-weeks and a baby who was not breathing.
FDNY Paramedics Pablo Rivera and Chris Wischerth arrived at the home on 89th Avenue in Queens at around 4:45 a.m., three minutes after receiving the call.
“We just ran straight into the apartment,” Paramedic Rivera said.
A man met them at the door, without saying anything, he pointed to the back.
They found a woman in the bathroom holding a newborn baby girl, who was blue, still attached with the umbilical cord. The baby was not breathing.
“We immediately rushed to help the child,” Paramedic Rivera said. “She didn’t have any life. There was no pulse.”
The bathroom was only about 3-feet square, so Paramedic Wischerth went to his knees to begin CPR on the baby while she was still in her mother’s lap, and Paramedic Rivera reached over his partner’s back to ventilate the newborn.
“I had to go between her the toilet her and the sink, I could barely fit,” Paramedic Wischerth said. “But we didn’t want to move anyone until more hands came.”
The baby was only about two pounds. “She could fit in your hand,” Paramedic Rivera said.
And while they were able to restore the heartbeat, it was not stabilizing.
Moments later, Lt. Michael Daddona, and EMTs Kimberly Barba and Ryan Slane arrived, handing tools to the paramedics to allow them to cut the umbilical cord.
They said they then made sure the mother was ok, but knew she was in good hands, so they swaddled the baby and ran to the ambulance, continuing chest compressions on the way.
Firefighters and police officers had cleared the hallways and held the elevator to make the trip as quick as possible. Then a firefighter from Engine 298 boarded the ambulance to help as they rushed to LIJ Hospital.
On the short drive, the baby’s heart rate stabilized and she began to cry.
“It’s a great feeling when you feel that heartbeat on a tiny baby or when you hear the crying,” Paramedic Wischerth said. “You can’t explain the feeling.”
They were able to meet the mother when she arrived at the hospital and ensured her the little girl was doing well. They gave the mother credit for remaining calm throughout the process and helping them provide the best care.
Looking back on the event, Paramedic Rivera said, “It’s fulfilling to help someone and help this baby. When I got home that morning I got to tell my wife, ‘I saved a life today.’”
He said the event took on extra meaning when he thought about his own children, boys ages 13, 8 and 7-months.
Paramedic Wischerth added that the partners relied heavily on their training and remained focused throughout the job, and gave a lot of credit to the team working with them.
“It feels really good to know we could help,” he said, but added, “It’s all part of the job – you do everything you can for every patient and hope for the best outcome.”