August 9, 2013
By Audrey Fraizer
Yellowhead Highway will always signify more than the busy road through Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, for a couple anticipating the birth of a second child.
And, most likely, a similar route they would prefer to bypass in the future if given a similar situation.
The couple was about 50 kilometers (30 miles) away from their intended medical center destination in Saskatoon on Thursday, April 4, when shortly after 7 a.m. the soon-to-be-dad and driver called 9-1-1.
“He was on speakerphone and said his wife was having a baby,” said MD Communications EMD Jessica Rempel. “I advised that he immediately pull over to the side of the road and turn on his four ways.”
Dad pulled to the side, activated the emergency flashers, and Rempel was about midway through MPDS Key Questions (KQ) at the time mom said she could feel the baby’s head. A 9-1-1 supervisor following the call relayed information to an ambulance while a second dispatcher called first responders in Clavet, a village about 15 kilometers (9 miles) outside of Saskatoon.
Although help would be coming from two directions, it was certainly not the reassuring situation any parent would hope for. Yellowhead Highway (or Highway 16) is the major east-west route through Saskatchewan province in western Canada. Traffic was heavy and mom was hesitant, Rempel said.
“Can you blame her?” Rempel said. “They were on the side of the road on a main highway during morning rush hour. I felt really bad for her.”
Feelings aside, Rempel jumped into Pre-Arrival Instructions for childbirth and delivery. Eighteen minutes into the call and Rempel heard the baby’s first cries and seconds later the blare of sirens from the ambulance arriving on scene. Rempel congratulated the couple, told them she would be disconnecting, and turned the call over to Clavet responders.
The ability to help people is the stuff Rempel lives for and this was not the first time she found herself on the imminent side of childbirth. Turn the calendar back to Nov. 3, 2011, and Rempel, who was new on the job, was giving the same instructions to those at a Saskatoon massage clinic. The mother-to-be had booked a prenatal massage on the date the baby was due, and just as she was getting dressed to leave, the baby got ready too.
“Her husband called 9-1-1 and their doula (labor coach),” Rempel said. “I gave him instructions over the phone and the baby arrived before the ambulance.”
The massage clinic—ironically with the business title Inside Out Therapies—was undoubtedly the preferred birthing venue, if either of the couples Rempel had assisted in baby deliveries had been handed the opportunity to choose. Clinic staff provided warm towels, linens, and warm pillows to make mom more comfortable. Fortunately, the couple forced into the April 2013 roadside delivery had packed along clean towels “just in case.”
The important part, however, is the outcome.
“The babies were fine, and that’s the main thing,” Rempel said.
Rempel took a 180-degree turn in her career choice two years ago, leaving an accounting job for calltaking and dispatch at MD Communications, and it might just be the best decision she ever made.
“I plan to stay with this,” she said. “This is my career. At the end of each day, I feel like I’m accomplishing something by helping someone.”