Firefighters Timothy Lilley and Samantha Hamilton delivered a baby girl in West Concord. Photo by Laurie O'Neill

Concord firefighters double as storks

to deliver a baby girl

By Laurie O’Neill — Correspondent 

“Some of us wait our whole careers to do this,” said Samantha Hamilton.  

“This” is getting a call that a woman is in active labor and arriving to find out she won’t make it to the hospital in time, and you must help deliver the baby.  

Concord firefighters Hamilton and Timothy Lilley responded to such a call recently from a West Concord couple and delivered a healthy baby girl. It was the first time in at least 10 years that Concord firefighters have served as storks, according to Assistant Fire Chief Brian Whitney.  

“I am still on Cloud 9,” Hamilton told The Concord Bridge in a recent interview. Recalled Lilley, “I was stoked for days.”  

The two firefighters, trained EMTs, were with a department ambulance at Emerson Hospital when the February call came in. Dispatcher Eric Robichaud sent ambulance, fire, Advanced Life Support (ALS), and police units to the scene.  

Once the police, fire, and ambulance units arrived at the family’s home, Whitney said, the crew requested another ambulance for extra personnel and in case separate ambulances were needed if complications arose.  

Seven firefighters were at the scene: Hamilton, Lilley, Eric Harries, Lt. Todd Niemi, James Black, Mike DeRoche, and Tim O’Malley. Paramedic Elise Gedansky responded from ALS company PRO EMS.  

Lt. Todd Niemi, left, helped Firefighters Timothy Lilley and Samantha Hamilton deliver the West Concord child. Photo by Laurie O’Neill

On the way, Hamilton and Lilley talked through the steps they would take. They ran through a mental inventory of everything they would need and the contents of the ambulance’s obstetrics kit, including clamps, a bulb syringe, a cord cutter, and sterile blankets.  

Meanwhile, dispatcher Isabelle Karlin provided medical instructions to the expectant couple.  

When they arrived and entered the house, the firefighters did not hear any noise, but they found the laboring mother and her anxious husband upstairs in the primary bedroom. After assessing the situation, Hamilton tended to the delivery while Lilley monitored the woman’s vitals and reassured the edgy dad.  

A team effort

Lilley described the hour the firefighters spent on the scene as “very controlled chaos. It went as good as it could possibly have gone.”  

Having the added personnel “was super helpful,” said Hamilton. “It was a team effort.” Harries, for example, put the sterile blankets in the family’s clothes dryer to warm them and turned up the heat in the house, she said.  

Hamilton and Lilley kept the mother calm, assuring her she was “in good hands,” telling her they would proceed at her pace and not rush, and offering to help her move into a comfortable position,” said Hamilton.  

Soon, the baby emerged into Hamilton’s hands, and she rubbed the newborn’s back until the girl gave a robust cry. It was a thrilling moment.  

“And the baby was beautiful!” she said.  

Stork pins were awarded to all involved in the emergency delivery call. Photo by Laurie O’Neill

Lilley cut the cord — something the baby’s father said he was a bit too nervous to do. It was the mother’s due date, and she had already packed for the hospital, but when her labor suddenly intensified, her husband made the emergency call.  

Once they were considered stable, mom and baby were bundled into the ambulance, and Hamilton and Lilley took the parents and newborn to Emerson.  

Their mission accomplished, the two firefighters could relax, but said they became “giddy with excitement” — not only proud of what they had done but overjoyed at the outcome.  

The parents were “so grateful and they thanked us repeatedly,” Hamilton said. “We hope they will come by to visit us when they are ready.” The infant is the couple’s second child.  

The department has gone on calls to transport women in labor to the hospital or to take mothers and newborns there, but delivering a baby is rare for them.

Not only did Hamilton and Lilley share the experience, but they have even more in common: They both recently married their partners, and what’s more, they started work with the CFD on the very same day two and a half years ago.  

Firefighters train in EMT school on what to expect on such a call, said Hamilton, and they also undergo training with their departments. But it was nevertheless an experience she and Lilley will never forget.  

All those involved in the birth, including the dispatchers, were or will be awarded pink and silver stork pins to wear on their uniforms, according to Whitney, who said this is common practice in emergency medical services.  

Hamilton, Niemi, and Lilley proudly wore their pins when a reporter visited the station.  

“Now we come in to work wondering if we’ll deliver another baby today,” said Hamilton. Hoping more than wondering, it seems.  

When Hamilton reflected that the delivery “was the most incredible experience I’ve ever had,” Lilley added his own declaration: “It was the best day of my life.”