By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News
Firefighters in Fultondale had a major task this week that had nothing to do with fires.
At about 10:50 a.m. Monday, a pickup truck pulled in at the Fultondale Fire Station with a woman in very advanced labor.
The couple from Warrior‚ George and Gina Mendiola, were on their way to UAB Hospital when Gina told her husband the baby was coming — now.
They called 911, where an operator alerted the Fultondale Fire Department. Firefighters William Dellinger and Daniel Harper were both close to the fire station. Dellinger got there right before the couple pulled up in a pickup truck.
Harper was right behind them. He immediately ran into the station to grab an OB kit, which is stocked on all of Fultondale’s fire trucks.
There was no time to move the expectant mother; by the time they arrived at the fire station, the baby was already arriving, Dellinger said.
“It happened so fast, there was no time to think,” he said. “We just made sure the airway was open and he was crying.”
It indeed happened fast: The firemen were toned out at 10:52 a.m. and the baby was born eight minutes later.
Harper suctioned the baby’s airways and handed him to his mother. He weighed 7 pounds, 9 ounces and was 20 and one-half inches long.
Harper rode in the ambulance to UAB with the family. He and Dellinger returned on Tuesday to check on the family; mother and son are both doing well.
The Mendiolas named their son Jace, and are trying to think of a way to combine Dellinger and Harper’s names for Jace’s middle name.
Both firemen are nationally-registered emergency medical technicians (EMTs). Fultondale Fire Department Lt. Josh Bryant said all EMTs are trained in childbirth according to state protocols.
Fultondale Fire Chief Bryan Powell said training is nothing like the real thing, though; he said he is proud of how Dellinger and Harper handled the situation.
“They took extra care and made sure they didn’t hurt the baby,” he said. “It’s a lot of extra pressure. ... Seeing a baby come into this world is not something everybody gets to see.”
The Mendiolas were unavailable for comment by press deadline on Tuesday, but they gave permission for the firefighters to tell their story.