NORTH BEND — Every other year during recertification as an EMT, firefighters have to go through a variety of training, including how to deliver babies.
Most never need it.
But North Bend Lt. John Lucero did on a recent day.
Lucero, who last week celebrated his 20th anniversary with the North Bend Fire Department, and partner Luke Rector were called to a hotel for a woman in labor. Moments later, Lucero was holding a baby girl.
“We train on that stuff,” Lucero said. “You don’t train a lot on it. I don’t know if anybody at North Bend Fire has ever delivered one.
“I’ve been a couple times close, where they just delivered a baby. Certainly, that was the first time I’ve ever caught one.”
He didn’t have a lot of time to think about what he and Rector were doing.
“We got tapped out,” he said of the call coming in. “It’s literally 30 seconds from the station. I jumped out and ran in the door. She’s laying on the bed. Her mom is at her head. She is screaming.
“I was thinking she’s going to have it four hours from now, tonight, tomorrow. She said, ‘No, you don’t understand, the baby is coming right now.’”
And it was.
“I look down, and here comes the baby’s head,” Lucero said. “I stick my hand down there and cradle the head and boom, the baby is coming out right now.
“I just reached down and turned her shoulders a tiny bit and boom, she’s right out, she’s in my hand.”
It had been 23 years since Lucero’s youngest son, Luke, was born — 23 years since he had been present for a birth.
Family relationships made the experience even more special, he said.
“My kids are my world,” Lucero said. “Everything in my life revolves around my kids to some extent. It was super rewarding. I was honored to be there. It was really emotional.”
Lucero got to experience the entire process.
When the ambulance arrived a few moments after the birth, Lucero’s buddy Jason Hoffman was on the crew and Hoffman encouraged him to be the one to cut the umbilical cord.
And then Lucero opted to ride in the ambulance to the hospital with the new mom.
“I wanted to ride the ambulance all the way in,” he said. “Mother and baby are doing fine. As far as I know. A lot of times, we don’t get the follow-through on stuff. One of the nurses said that everything was well.”
Lucero said he was grateful for the required training.
“As an EMT, every two years, you have a certain number of recertification hours,” he said. “It includes airway breathing, cardiac, OB, child birth, child care. You have so many hours in each section. You cover it at minimum every other year.
“But you can cover it in a book all you want, but when you are standing there, it’s a whole different ball game.”
Fortunately, the process went well.
“It couldn’t have went any better,” he said. “Thank the Lord.”
When he was done and had calmed down, his first call was to his son, Luke, a new firefighter/paramedic in LaGrande, and a third-generation firefighter in the family — Lucero’s dad has been a volunteer firefighter for more than 50 years.
“I called (Luke) right after it happened,” Lucero said. “I said, you’ll never guess what I just did.’”
It was certainly a memorable call for Lucero and Rector.
“It was quite the call — definitely a first for me,” Rector said.
“It was neat to be able to do that with Luke and have him there,” Lucero said. “And my buddy Jason from the ambulance. Any time I see him show up on scene, it’s super good because he’s a great paramedic.”