Sirens screeched and vehicles darted out of the way as the ambulance hurtled north on High Street toward Highland District Hospital, the first responders on board sweating as they tended to their patient. All they had to do was get Kayla Clark to the hospital before it happened.
Paramedic Mike Sowards of the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District had trained for this moment but still felt unprepared. EMT Steve Vance, close at Sowards’ side, was ready to do what he had to do.
As EMT Michael Glenn turned the ambulance left into the hospital entrance, hoping against hope that he could make it to the ER in time, he heard Vance say, “There he is.”
When the vehicle bumped into the driveway, Glenn heard the cries of a brand new baby boy.
On Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018, at 9:25 p.m., Jaxtyn Clark was born in the back of an ambulance a stone’s throw from the hospital.
Sowards, Vance and Glenn this week received a special honor for bringing Jaxtyn into the world — golden stork pins for their uniform lapels, personally pinned by the new mother in an informal ceremony.
Kayla Clark, who lives in Belfast with her husband, Blayne, and children Khloee and Zade, said her night of delivery began with back pain at 8 p.m.
At 8:30 p.m., her water broke.
“The ambulance arrived at nine, and at 9:25, (Jaxtyn) decided to come out in the ambulance,” she said. “I told them I felt the head, and they got everything ready and delivered him.”
Sowards, who was the lead man on the delivery, said all the challenging medical cases he’s treated have nothing on delivering a baby.
“Hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he said.
Sowards said he spent eight hours in an obstetrics course as part of his medical training, and he has seen a baby being born, but never delivered one.
“It’s my first,” he said.
Vance said the emergency delivery was his first as well.
“I remember Mom saying, ‘He’s coming,’ and next thing I know, we had a new baby boy,” he said. “It was a very humbling experience… We’re just happy everybody’s OK.”
Blayne Clark said he rode to the hospital with other family members to meet the ambulance — and, to his surprise, his newborn son — at the Highland District ER.
“I was shocked,” he said. “I didn’t know she had him yet.”
Kayla Clark thanked the Paint Creek crew for their assistance with adding another member to her family.
“They did a fabulous job on helping me deliver Jaxtyn and keeping me calm while I was in labor,” she said.
Mother and baby are getting along fine, she added, and Jaxtyn is loving life being “spoiled by Dad.”
Paint Creek Public Information Officer Lt. Branden Jackman said the emergency delivery was Paint Creek’s first in several years, the last one having been delivered on SR 73 near the Hillsboro Lowe’s.
“It’s one of those rare occasions,” he said. “If we have pregnant females, we hustle to get them to the hospital.”
Jackman said it’s refreshing for those in emergency service to experience the beginning of a life, even if the circumstances aren’t optimal.
“So many times, we’re with people when they leave this world,” Jackman said. “It’s nice to be there when one comes in.”
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570.