East of England Ambulance paramedics resuscitate newborn Poringland baby whose umbilical cord was twice wrapped round its neck
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015
When all hope appeared lost, in terrifying minutes after baby Alana came into the world starved of air and not breathing, a mother and paramedics heard the best sound in the world – a raucous cry and a gasp for air.
It is the sound every mother longs to hear – their baby's very first cry.
But when the umbilical cord got wrapped around the neck of baby Alana Heelas during childbirth preventing her from breathing, that cry seemed to take an eternity.
However, thanks to East of England Ambulance paramedic Dave Killingback and student paramedic Nick Ball, who managed to unloop the cord and give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation during the dramatic home birth in Poringland, that special, ear-piercing moment finally arrived.
And this week mum Sharon and dad James were reunited with the ambulance heroes who helped little Alana into the world at their home in Howe Lane.
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It was the first time Mr Killingback and Mr Ball had answered a 999 call when they were called to the Heelas home at just after 6.30am on December 15 and they thought it would be a case of waiting for a midwife to arrive for what seemed a routine home birth.
However, at 8.03am, Sharon Heelas' waters broke and five minutes later the paramedics realised the birth was not progressing as normal.
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Mr Killingback, 29, said: 'It soon became obvious there was a complication; the turning point was Sharon saying nothing was happening.
'Nick phoned the delivery suite at the hospital who stayed on the phone with us.'
The pair noticed that the umbilical cord was twice wrapped round Alana's neck and after managing to unloop the cord once, on the next contraction, she was born.
The initial relief was met with horror as paramedics realised the baby was not breathing.
Mr Killingback, a paramedic with EEAST for eight years, who had never had to resuscitate a baby before, said: 'She was blue and floppy and I asked for a second ambulance and air ambulance to attend.
'I started giving mouth-to-mouth and after five breaths I could feel a slow heartbeat.'
He added: 'It felt like an eternity. After continuing mouth-to-mouth I rubbed her belly with a towel for five minutes and she then let out an almighty cry – I nearly did as well. We all breathed a sigh of relief.
'Nick gave me a man hug afterwards, I think there was a few tears too.'
A midwife arrived soon after the birth and Alana and Mrs Heelas were taken to hospital as routine.
Mrs Heelas, 36, who has two other children, Scarlett, seven, and Freddie, four, and has a fear of hospitals, said: 'It is no doubt that without the emergency ambulance service's quick response, on all counts, I would not be sat cradling my beautiful healthy daughter in my arms now.'
Mrs Heelas' husband James was with her throughout the birth.
Mr Killingback said of the couple: 'Sharon and James were brilliant, they held it together and didn't panic – it all happened very quickly.'
Yesterday, the family met up with Mr Killingback and Mr Ball to thank them for saving their daughter.
Mrs Heelas said to the paramedics: 'I'm so grateful to you, we'll always be indebted to you – we're so lucky to have Alana.'
Mr Killingback said: 'It's really nice to see her, thank you. We get a lot of calls but I'll never forget this one.'
Other EEAST staff who attended were paramedic Steve Wilson, emergency care assistant David Forbes and student paramedic Rose Sayer.
Mr Killingback and Mr Ball praised the over-the-phone advice from a midwife from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's delivery suite during the drama.
The East Anglian Air Ambulance helicopter from Norwich Airport was also despatched, but was stood down just as it arrived in Poringland.
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