Uxbridge fire department makes history with a baby

Megan Parratt is pretty sure that if she has a second child, she’s going to be all traditional about it, maybe even go to a hospital to make it happen. Because when her first, daughter Braelynn Mae, was born a few weeks ago, the event was anything but traditional.

In fact, when Braelynn arrived about 11:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 3, she made history: the first child ever to be delivered by a firefighter in the 148-year history of the Uxbridge Fire Department.

“Apparently the Department has come close a few times,” laughs chief Mike MacDonald, “and if the ambulance hadn’t been delayed by a call in Port Perry, we might have all been spectators this time, too. But thankfully, Megan lives just a couple of minutes from the fire hall, and our team got there just in the nick of time.”

Not that Miss Braelynn had displayed any particular impatient streak up to that point. She had been quite content to stay in Megan’s womb for more than 41 weeks. Finally, the family doctor decided that she needed some incentive. Megan and father Ryan Cudahy strongly agreed, as did Megan’s parents, who were anxiously hovering by this time.

“We went over to Port Perry Hospital that morning to get induced,” recalls Megan, “but there was no sign of labour, so they sent us home. The contractions increased, so late afternoon we went back. Still nothing, so we all figured it would probably happen the next day. Back we came to Uxbridge. About 9 or so, the labour pains got pretty intense, and quicker and quicker. Finally, at 10, my mom started to get us ready to go to the Uxbridge hospital, but I knew I wouldn’t make it even that far. So we called 9-1-1, and I went to bed and waited.”

The call came in to the UFD: medical emergency, woman in final labour. Some team members were already in the hall, others quickly arrived, but they were hoping one particular member would respond to the call. And just as they were about to climb aboard Pumper 71 and hit the street, Jonathan Britton walked through the door.

“They all said, ‘Thank God you’re here!’,” laughs Britton, who got the call at his home in Barton Farms and knew he had to drop everything to be part of the response. Like all the other members (except the Chief), Britton fights fires in his spare time, and his regular job makes him particularly suited to this emergency: he’s a critical care paramedic with the Toronto-based helicopter division of the provincial Ornge ambulance service.

“I’ve responded to a lot of calls like this one,” he says, “and delivered a few babies as well. When we got to the house, Megan’s mom was in the driveway, making it clear we had to hurry, and when I got to the bedroom, it was obvious that there was no time to wait for the ambulance.

Matt Alexander, the team captain, took the father and coached him in what to expect, and the mom and I got Megan ready, and it couldn’t have been more than seven or eight minutes from the time we pulled up, before Baby had made her appearance.”

While Jonathan and Matt worked in the bedroom, the other four firefighters bustled about making sure Braelynn would be warm and cozy in her new home. They heated up towels and blankets in the dryer, made coffee for Megan and Ryan, and kept Megan’s dad busy with small talk (during which they learned that the parents had known their child was a girl since May, hence her middle name).

Only a few minutes after Braelynn’s arrival, the ambulance also arrived, Briton’s paramedic colleagues cut the cord and made it all official, and before long, the firefighters were back on Pumper 71 and headed to the station.

“It was funny,” says Britton. “All the previous week, the Chief and I had been getting our rescue truck ready to be the new medical emergency vehicle. Oct. 3 was the last day for Pumper 71 to respond to that type of call. Turned out to be a pretty memorable one.”

For several members of the team, Oct. 3 had begun with tragedy, when they attended a fatal traffic accident in the northern part of the township. So at the end of the day, to be part of such a joyful celebration was a great reminder of the challenge, and satisfaction, of being a firefighter.

For Megan, even if she has several younger siblings for Miss Braelynn, it will be hard to beat the drama of this first birth.

“I’m so grateful to all those men, in all that craziness, for making it so easy for Ryan and me. And I’m pretty sure, when Braelynn’s old enough to understand what happened that night, she’ll decide right then to be a firefighter when she grows up.”

Conrad Boyce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Uxbridge Cosmos