A premature baby girl was successfully delivered and subsequently resuscitated in Kiriat Gat by two volunteer EMTs early Tuesday morning under the live video guidance of senior specialists from Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.
The mother, 24, who was in her 35th week of pregnancy, alerted emergency services after seeing her baby’s leg was starting to come out in the middle of the night.
Tzvi Yosef Shapira, a United Hatzalah volunteer, reported: “When I arrived at the scene together with another EMT, we found that the baby’s entire lower body had already exited the birth canal. We updated the dispatch center and were instructed by the doctor on-call not to intervene until the arrival of the intensive care ambulance crew, due to the complexity of the situation. We insisted that the baby’s skin looked blue, suggesting a lack of oxygen, and that something needed to be done immediately to save her life.”
In response, the dispatch center reached out to senior doctors at the nearest hospital, Barzilai Medical Center, and less than a minute later, the EMTs were on a video call with a senior OB-GYN, a senior pediatrician, and three midwives from the hospital’s maternity unit. Using a doll to demonstrate the steps needed to deliver the breech baby, the OB-GYN guided the two EMTs throughout the delivery without causing harm to the baby or the mother.
A breech birth is when a baby is born bottom first instead of head first. Around 3–5% of pregnant women at term (37–40 weeks pregnant) have a breech baby. Due to their higher than average rate of possible complications for the baby, breech births are generally considered higher risk.
“We did exactly as we were shown, and very quickly were able to extract the infant from the birth canal, but she was pulseless and not breathing,” Shapira recounted. “We immediately initiated CPR, applying compressions on the baby girl’s chest and providing her with assisted ventilation. We were very worried, but thankfully, after a few tense moments, the baby’s pulse was restored.”
A few minutes later, a regular ambulance arrived at the scene, approximately 20 minutes after the two Hatzalah volunteers had arrived, and joined the efforts. 10 minutes later, as she was losing her pulse again, the intensive care ambulance crew arrived and helped the EMTs at the scene revive her for the second time.
The team of first responders then transferred the baby to the ambulance, which transported her to the hospital without her mother, to reach the maternity ward as soon as possible, as instructed by the obstetrician. The baby’s skin had now begun to regain a healthy color, and she was lively and reacting to her surroundings.
After the baby had been evacuated, the two Hatzalah volunteers attended to the mother, who had lost large quantities of blood. They helped treat and stabilize her and then she too was taken to the hospital for further care.
The newborn is currently in stable condition and under supervision in the hospital’s NICU.
“I’ve been a volunteer EMT for 9 years and I’ve never encountered anything like this,” Shapira said. “I usually don’t like to speak about myself, but in this case, I can definitely say that we acted with composure and professionalism under extremely stressful circumstances and the results speak for themselves. The cooperation between first responders, doctors, midwives, and later the ambulance teams, was impressive and resulted in saving two lives. It will take me a long time to fully appreciate what we’ve just accomplished.”