LAKESIDE — Like so many other Monday mornings, Paul Rethwish, a utility worker for the Lakeside Water District, had begun his day on May 18 reading water meters in Lakeside.
Rethwish, driving a company truck, turned onto the 600 block of 8th Street where he immediately noticed a woman waving her hands frantically on the side of the road trying to get someone to stop.
“She was hollering for help and cars were just going around her,” said Rethwish. “So, I pulled in and she said her daughter was having a baby in the back of a car.”
Without hesitation, Rethwish rushed out of his truck to a small four-door vehicle, which was parked off on the side of the road, where he saw a woman, whose name will remain anonymous, had just given birth to a baby boy.
“I dialed 911 and put the phone on speaker and stuck on top of the car,” he said. “… She was right in front of me and so I grabbed the baby and he was kind of blue so I turned him on his side and rubbed his back.”
A few moments later, the baby began moving, crying and breathing, said Rethwish.
“I couldn’t really hear the 911 operator and I remember her saying something about lay him on his side,” said Rethwish. “But, I just figure the common sense thing to do was to lower his head and turn him on his side so that he can breathe.”
“I’m almost 59 years old and so I’ve seen things on TV and I’ve read stuff … I remember reading something about baby’s noses being plugged when their born, so I cleared his nose with my fingers.”
As the baby was recovering, still in Rethwish’s arms wrapped in his sweatshirt, he said he checked on the mother’s vitals and she appeared to be okay. A crew of first-responders arrived on scene shortly after the 911 call was placed at about 10:30 a.m.
Paramedics clamped and cut the umbilical cord and took the baby to the back of the ambulance where he was said to be in good condition as well as his mother, according to Rethwish. The two reunited in the ambulance, which drove off, and what felt like it happened in a few seconds was over in about half an hour, said Rethwish.
Being in the middle of a global pandemic, Rethwish said it was nice to be able to be a part of something positive, especially during such difficult times.
“It sounds kind of corny, but it was nice to be able to do something and help someone,” said Rethwish. “Honestly, it helped me too. It was a special moment and as weird as it sounds it was kind of fun. I mean I was shaking like a leaf for an hour afterwards, but at the time it was pretty exciting and was just a nice thing to be able to do.”
With things happening so quickly, Rethwish said he and the mother weren’t able to chat, other than him hearing her thank him for his help, and since the incident he hasn’t been able to connect with her or her family.
Although, he said he’s heard that the baby is doing well, he said if given the opportunity to talk with the mother he’d have this to say to her: “Thank you for letting me be a part of such a special moment.”