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A surprise delivery: how BCEHS dispatchers, paramedics and the Patient Transfer Network helped with an unexpected Gulf Island birth

It had been seven years since paramedic Shannon Brayford helped deliver the last baby born on Pender Island. This time, she and her colleagues needed to assemble a large birth team for the out-of-town expectant parents.
Two smiling paramedics sitting in an ambulance wearing masks
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​Pender Island paramedics Shannon Brayford and Scott Elliott

It’s not every day paramedics attend a birth, especially not on Pender Island, with a population of approximately 2,500 residents. 

On the afternoon of January 22, 2022, paramedics Shannon Brayford and Scott Elliott got to assist in this special moment.

“Me and my partner Scott got paged to respond to an imminent birth. Volunteer firefighters, notified by BCEHS, were already on scene and our first thought was ‘where do our patients need to go and how do we get them there,’” recalls Shannon, an emergency medical responder who previously trained as a midwife. “Our first choice when it comes to births is to always get patients off the island where they will have access to more resources.”

Shannon and Scott connected with BCEHS charge dispatcher Megan Hoggard and together, they  formulated a plan: the paramedics would transport the Victoria-based parents to a water taxi where they would be taken to Vancouver Island. 

“In dispatch we were already discussing our options on how we could move this patient safely off of Pender when the crew called in with the update that things were progressing faster than we all thought,” says Megan.

 “I have to give the biggest kudos to the crew. They were calm and professional from start to finish, always communicating exactly what they needed and advocating for the highest level of patient care.” - Megan
The 15-minute drive to the water taxi was not to be: Danielle Yole’s labour progressed quickly and the first-time mom couldn’t risk delivering on the water.

“Our baby was not due for another three weeks,” explains Danielle. “My partner and I wanted to take a last holiday to Pender Island before baby arrived. It was supposed to be a quick getaway but this kid had other ideas!”

Assembling a birth team on the fly

Plan B meant Shannon and Scott transported the expectant parents to Pender Island’s local health clinic. Once there, the paramedics worked with the charge dispatcher and the local physician to assemble a birth team: a midwife was plucked from her Pender garden and thanks to Patient Transfer Network staff, an obstetrician from Victoria was ferried over on a water taxi, accompanied by a third-year medical student. Add a couple of firefighters to the mix, and it was a full house in the clinic. 

“We were consulting regularly with dispatch to discuss what resources could be sent if we needed them,” says Shannon.  
“We had a large birth team available, and we knew all the right things were in place no matter how baby arrived.” - Shannon
Newborn babyThankfully, it was a picture-perfect birth. Six hours after Danielle first started feeling cramps, she and partner Josh Dargan welcomed baby Leo into the world.

“We had the biggest cheer team,” Danielle remembers. “Everybody was so stoked and so happy. Shannon and Scott were absolutely epic! Shannon kept me laughing and staying positive all the way through.”

Josh adds, “I was really appreciative of Scott, who really knew how to console a stressed expectant dad.”

SOURCE: A surprise delivery: how BCEHS dispatchers, paramedics and the Patient Transfer Network helped with an unexpected Gulf Island birth ( )
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