Special delivery: Baby Atticus tests EMS paramedics and local hospital

On April 26, 2012, Baby Atticus decided that 9 plus months of waiting was long enough.  The 7 pound, 2 ounce son of Mary Overholt and Travis Doak became a resident of Peterborough in grand style.

“Travis and I decided to have our first child in a home birth with the assistance of our midwife.  She saw me that morning and Atticus seemed like he was in no hurry to make an appearance,” explains Mary.  Despite being slightly overdue, Mary’s pregnancy’s was proceeding very well.

By mid-afternoon, the situation changed very rapidly and dramatically.  Mary contacted her midwife who advised her to call 911 while she made her way to the house.

“Giving birth is difficult and stressful – especially when you are alone. As a dispatcher, one of the toughest parts of the job is that you want to be right beside them, and I guess in a way you are by being on the other end of the line until our first responders arrive,” says dispatcher Mary Ann McNeil.  “Mom did a great job in delivering baby Atticus – she was a great part of the team.”

Unfortunately, the newborn’s vital signs were absent (VSA) despite Mary’s efforts as dispatcher McNeil guided her through ways to stimulate and revive baby Atticus.  “That’s when paramedics Donny and Tiffany walked through the door to take over. I was so relieved that they arrived when they did. I knew they were going to do everything in their power to save our baby,” recalls Mary.

Despite being only a few minutes from their home, father Travis and midwife Kathy Balazs arrived to see paramedics resuscitating Atticus and preparing to transport him to hospital.  The midwife and paramedics Brad Meldrum and Andrea Szunejko were also on hand to assist their colleagues, and care for mom, reassure dad, and help transport the pair to Peterborough Regional Health Centre.  

“Mom and baby are the true heroes of this story.  She did an incredible job of bringing this little guy safely into the world,” says Advanced Care Paramedic (ACP) Donny Watson.  “Atticus is a real fighter and we’re thrilled he’s here – healthy and safe.  It’s a real high point in my career,” adds Tiffany Covell

Through their efforts, Atticus was revived on-route to hospital and received further life saving treatment in PRHC’s ER and Special Care Unit.  “The paramedics in the field and the dispatcher did a great job in reviving little Atticus and caring for mom.  It goes to show that great teamwork with exceptionally gifted professionals can really accomplish almost anything,” said Special Care Nurse Bonnie Mackey.

PRHC is a regional level 2 B neo-natal centre with 15 isolettes in their special Care Unit.

Mom, dad and baby Atticus were recently reunited at PRHC with the health care team that helped save the healthy and serene youngster.  “It’s stories like these that make the men and women of our service do their work everyday,” says Chief Robert English.  “I’m proud of every single one of them and our partnership with all the first responders like police, fire, paramedics and hospital staff.  We’re an unbeatable team.”

“It was an amazing experience to meet the paramedics again and for them to see Atticus, growing and thriving, thanks to them,” says Mary.

“It’s probably not the last surprise Atticus has in store for us, and we look forward to many happy adventures with our strong little man,” adds Travis.