Baby born in Coastguard helicopter
A baby boy made history this morning by being the first to be born in a Shetland Coastguard helicopter.
The 7lb boy was born 1,000 feet up above Lunna Holm near Vidlin at 6.30am, and was a “text book” delivery, according to the winchmen.
The helicopter R102 was called after a doctor in Unst attending a woman in labour called Shetland Coastguard at 4.30am to find out times of the ferries to the Mainland.
After speaking with the Scottish Ambulance Service, the Sumburgh-based helicopter was dispatched. It was airborne at 5.40am and landed in Unst at 6am, taking on board the expectant mother and father.
But the baby could not wait and was delivered by the winchman paramedic Marcus Wigfull, assisted by Friedie Manson, the winch operator and paramedic, about 20 minutes into the flight.
Mr Wigfull said: “We knew the lady was in the later stages of labour and within five minutes the indications were that we were not going to make it [to hospital in Lerwick].”
But, he said, it was “absolutely” what helicopter crew are trained for. He said: “I’m not a midwife but obstetrics are part of our course. Thankfully the birth was absolutely straightforward, very smooth and very quick and mother and baby are in very good form.”
As for the father: “Being 1,000 feet up and travelling at 150 mph in anyone’s book if you’re not used to aircraft it’s a daunting place to be. It’s a very strange environment and it’s our job to reassure.
“The dad’s reaction was like any father’s – he was thrilled.”
The weather was fine, dry and windless for the journey to Lerwick and the helicopter landed at Clickimin at 6.40am, from where family were transferred to the Gilbert Bain Hospital by waiting ambulance into the care of medical staff.
Everything had gone in “text book” fashion, said Mr Wigfull, who is based in Shetland, but the birth certificate might cause a problem – it would probably have to be “very generic” but including the latitude and longitude.
He added: “It’s very nice to do a job like this, it gives you a reason to do your job, we’re very happy.”
Shetland Coastguard watch manager Alex Dodge said: “This is the first time that a baby has been delivered on the Shetland Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Sumburgh.
“We would like to congratulate the mother and father on the birth of their son, who is reported to be doing well.”
The family asked for their privacy to be respected.
R102 was tasked by Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre at Kinloss.
It is believed the last recorded birth on a coastguard helicopter was in the Stornoway area 20 years ago.