St. Albert paramedic helps deliver 2 babies in 2 weeks

As a three-time father and veteran medic, Jay Howells knows for certain, newborns follow no clock.

Jay Howells helped deliver his own baby son, 11 years ago

Jay Howells helped two St. Albert women deliver their babies at home this month. (pixabay.com)

As a father and veteran medic, Jay Howells knows that newborns follow no clock. 

The St. Albert firefighter-paramedic estimates he has helped deliver nearly a dozen babies during his 20-year career.

But he hit a new record this month.

In less than a two weeks time, Howells, 41, helped bring two infants into the world, including one child who was born on a bathroom floor. 

You have to keep your cool, but there is nothing wrong with wiping away a tear every now and again, I suppose.- Jay Howells

"You can't help but draw off the emotion of the family members that are there — the mom and the dad," Howells said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. "And I've been there with my own children. You get swept up in it.

"You have to keep your cool. But there is nothing wrong with wiping away a tear every now and again, I suppose." 

Howells was dispatched to a St. Albert home on May 9 and was greeted by a flustered father-to-be. 

"I was led down the hallway by the husband, and as soon as I rounded the corner into the bathroom mom was there," Howells said. "And it was very apparent that we were going to have that baby, then and there." 

'We just do a bit part in this'

The mother had planned to have a hospital delivery, Howells said, but she was in labour and there was little to be gained by trying to move her into the ambulance.

Within minutes, the mother had a healthy baby resting in her arms. 

"She just needed a little bit of coaxing and reassurance," Howells said. "She had been there before. It wasn't her first child. And I had been there before, so I just planned on talking her through it.

"When you do show up and the baby is going to be delivered, and it's an imminent delivery, it's best and it's much more controlled to hunker down, so to speak, and deliver the child at home."

A week earlier, Howells helped another St. Albert woman deliver a child at home. The home birth was planned but the midwife was running late. 

Howells is reluctant to take much credit for the successful deliveries.

"We just do a bit-part in this, and the biggest part of what we do is reassure and encourage," he said. 

'The baby is coming'

Howells helped deliver his own son, 11 years ago, under similar circumstances.

His wife, Nicole, was in labour but things were moving slowly. A few hours after she was sent home from hospital to wait, Howells heard muffled shouting down the hallway. 

Jay Howells, his wife, Nicole, and their three children. (Jay Howells )

"My wife called for me through the bathroom door, and she said, 'I think the baby is coming.'

"To which I answered, like a bit of a dope, 'OK, I'll call my mom to come watch the girls.'" 

"And she said, 'No! It's happening now!" 

Baby Jack was born in the bathroom. 

"I opened the bathroom door and sure enough there were signs she was going to deliver, and deliver imminently, so I broke her water and encouraged her to push," Howells recalled. 

"My son is 11 years old today and healthy." 
Jay Howells poses with his son, Jack, 11, whom he helped deliver in the family home. (Jay Howells)

Howells said it's not unusual for firefighters and paramedics to deliver infants, and they are fully trained to handle the care of mother and baby in emergency situations. 

Before coming to St. Albert, he helped deliver babies across northern Alberta, where he worked as a paramedic in remote, isolated communities. 

He once helped deliver a baby in Fox Lake during a winter storm, which halted all air travel in and out of the reserve.

The baby was born prematurely, at 25 weeks, and despite the best efforts of clinic staff, the child did not survive.

"Those experiences, you can draw upon them," Howells said. 

"It allows you some reassurance in your own mind that you can get through this, and you can help your patient through it."