Someday, Paige Reese McLaughlin is going to have a great story to tell her friends about her birthday.
After all, not everyone can lay claim to being born in an ambulance.
Penn Township Ambulance paramedics delivered the 7-pound, 3-ounce baby last week in Penn Township en route to Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville.
Paige’s parents, township residents Missy and Jonathan McLaughlin, still are getting a handle on the July 21 whirlwind experience.
“It was very surreal,” Missy McLaughlin said on Monday. “It took a couple of days to sink in that this happened to us. And, it was all natural, too.”
The second-time parents had far less time to prepare for Paige’s arrival than for their son, Jordan, 2. Missy’s labor for their first child lasted 31 hours.
Three days after her due date, Paige didn’t waste any more time in meeting her parents. The birth happened quickly after Missy’s water broke at about 7:45 or 7:50 p.m. Jonathan — who rushed home from work in Turtle Creek — found that Missy already was pushing.
At that point, the situation was urgent because Missy’s contractions sped up to be only one minute apart. Though they had been planning to give birth at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, they called for an ambulance, which headed for Forbes Regional.
Even with driver Bobby Scott taking a shortcut by entering the turnpike at the PennDOT maintenance facility off Sandy Hill Road, paramedics realized they weren’t going to make it to the hospital in time. Scott pulled off the turnpike and paramedics Mike Andras and Garan Warren tended to the mother and daughter for a birth at 8:34 p.m.
Though the birth was the first for the ambulance service since 2004, the paramedics had previous experience. Andras was involved in the 2004 birth, and Warren participated in two previous births in his 28 years as a paramedic.
“Your training just kind of kicks in, and you don’t think about what’s going on in front of you,” Warren said.
The agency’s employees said they’re interested in meeting with the McLaughlin family in a few weeks.
“You get to hold the baby and see that child as not a patient anymore. It’s a human being,” said ambulance Supervisor Ed Grant, who delivered a baby in the 1990s. “You have a moment to be a person holding a baby and not a health care provider.”
Thinking back about Paige’s birth this week, the McLaughlins said it’s possible they might have tried to make the drive to the hospital themselves after Missy’s water broke if the circumstances were slightly different.
In that scenario, Paige might have been delivered by her father, not paramedics.
“If I wasn’t at work, it probably would have ended up that we had a baby on Route 22.”