Helicopter baby born 300m above ground

The baby was born ten minutes before landing at the nearest hospital in Lerwick. Photo / Thinkstock
The baby was born ten minutes before landing at the nearest hospital in Lerwick. Photo / Thinkstock

A helicopter crew had to deliver a baby at 300 metres after the mother-to-be did not make it to hospital in time from her remote island home.

The woman was airlifted from Unst, Britain's most northerly isle, and was on her way to the nearest maternity ward in Shetland when the Coastguard air crew realised they would have to play midwives themselves.

The 3.18 kg baby was delivered by winchman paramedic Marcus Wigfull 10 minutes before landing at Lerwick hospital where the child and mother are said to be doing well.

Mr Wigfull said he visited maternity wards during his paramedic training but that this 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,'' he said.

"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 Coastguard received a call from the unnamed mother's doctor at 4.30am, asking about ferry times from Unst as she was in labour.

After a discussion they decided instead to launch the helicopter which landed 90 minutes later and took the woman and her partner on board.

The baby could not wait and was delivered at 6.28am at 300 metres above a small island called Lunna Holm.

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."


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