For frontline emergency workers in the health service, the past year has been anything but normal as Covid-19 continues to affect communities. Ballaghaderreen woman Phil O’Connor’s day started off anything but normal at Mayo University Hospital in Castlebar on Sunday morning last where she was faced with an emergency situation, quite unlike anything she’s ever experienced before.
Phil, who lives in Aughalistia, near Ballaghaderreen with her husband Sean and her four teenage children, is an Emergency Medical Technical (EMT) based in Castlebar and attached to the Lifeline Private Ambulance Company.
As Phil prepared for the day ahead, a woman, accompanied by her partner, was about to enter Mayo University Hospital to give birth to her second child when suddenly Phil was entrusted with the responsibility of delivering the baby, a little girl, which she did with great care and patience at the entrance to the hospital.
She was helped on the day by her EMT colleague Clair Cunningham, from Attymass, near Ballina.
Thankfully both mother and baby, who hail from the Ballyhaunis area are in good form recovering from their drama. For Phil, the experience was a day quite like no other but one when all her professional experience and know-how was called upon.
“I was just starting my shift when about five minutes to eight on Sunday morning, I came across a lady, accompanied by her partner walking towards the lobby of the Hospital. She was almost unable to walk and her partner was quite concerned and was shouting for a nurse.
“I examined the lady and discovered that the baby’s head was emerging. Luckily, the woman was doing her breathing and was fairly calm. I asked her to give three to four big pushes and she gave birth to the baby there and then,” recalled Phil.
Despite the drama, it was back to business for Phil as she travelled to Holles Street Hospital in Dublin later that morning.
“I returned to Castlebar on Sunday and checked up on both the lady and the baby. Thankfully, all is well. It was my first time to deliver a baby,” says Phil
As well as her work as an EMT, Phil is a volunteer with her local Ballaghaderreen branch of the Irish Red Cross.
“In situations like Sunday, you call upon your experience and you keep calm. Your training comes into play in those moments,” says Phil.
“You’re very relieved when it all works out. You hardly have time to think, instinct kicks in, I guess. I suppose it was quite a shock looking back that events happened so quickly,” recalls Phil.