Andrew Holzmaier, 25, was halfway through his shift on Wednesday, December 17 when he and his colleagues at FDNY Engine 289 in Corona got an EMS call of a pregnant woman bleeding at 8:57 p.m.
They hurried to the basement apartment on 98th Street in nearby Elmhurst.
When Holzmaier, Captain James Goelz and firefighters Ricardo Remon, Francis
Ruebenacker, Stephen Poppe and Dennis Siry arrived on the scene, Holzmaier said, they saw that the Hispanic woman, who spoke little English and whose due date was to be December 23, “was crowning.”
Ruebenacker said he was relieved that the woman was not in distress.
Luckily, Holzmaier is also a certified EMT and emergency room nurse. Two of the other firefighters are also nurses and/or EMTs. Remon also served as translator during the delivery.
“It was the perfect crew,” he said.
The firefighters secured the area, set up their equipment and gathered clean towels.
On the second contraction, Holzmaier placed his fingers in the birth canal “to give an air pocket.” Then he helped slide the baby boy’s head out, but noticed that the umbilical cord was wrapped around the newborn’s neck.
“We quickly removed that and clamped the cord,” he said, before Ruebenacker suctioned the baby’s nose and mouth.
“If we hadn’t removed the cord, it might have tightened and constricted the air and blood supply,” he continued. “[But the baby] was breathing and crying when he was born and he pinked up right away.”
“I said congratulations [to the mother] and she smiled and looked at her new baby,” said Holzmaier, who has been with the FDNY for three years. “It was really exciting to birth a child and see the joy on the mother’s face.”
“It was amazing – very gratifying and very surreal – to bring a child into this world,” said Ruebenacker, who has been with the FDNY for seven years and is himself the father of twin girls. “I was amazed at how quickly it happened.”
The brand-new baby’s father arrived just as the mother and son were being taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center.
“[The firefighters] did very well, they were very professional and everything worked out,” said Goelz, a 20-year veteran who has responded to four births over the years.
As to this little Christmas miracle, Holzmaier said he plans to keep in touch with the family.