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.


Add Your Comment
  • Kevin Jones

    • December 11th, 2012 11:52

    I do hope the parents are considering the name Oscar Charlie for their new arrival!

  • Colin Hunter

    • December 11th, 2012 13:50

    Yes! That would be quite something! Congratulations to all concerned!

  • colin webster

    • December 11th, 2012 15:46

    There’s already an Oscar Charlie (Whalley), son of the former nurse on Fair Isle. Romeo Charlie would be more appropriate in this case. Congratulations to the proud parents from here in northern Canada.

  • Joe johnson

    • December 11th, 2012 16:11

    Congratulations to the parents. Well done to the Shetland Coastguard helicopter crew. So much respect for them and all they do.

  • Eddie Watt

    • December 11th, 2012 22:29

    Used to be the islander pilot at Tingwall and did air ambulance for 10 years with many a pregnant lady being transferred to either the Shetland mainland or Scottish mainland.
    The midwives were always a bit relieved to deliver the patient on to the ambulance or to at least get landed before the action happened, and I never experienced having a baby born on board the islander BN2 aircraft. Just as well given its cramped working space, however we did have some very close shaves and sometimes just arrived in the nick of time. Babies wait for no landings.
    Great story, well done crew it’s nice to know you’re there keeping Shetland folks safe

  • Frances Hurley

    • December 12th, 2012 17:30

    Great to read how very skilled and professional our Coastguard services are – excellent job done! Congratulations to the parents and their Christmas baby – hoping they’ll consider “Marcus” after the winchman paramedic who delivered him!

    Frances Hurley

  • Roseanne Grattan

    • December 13th, 2012 14:01

    Congratulations to all involved Once again the importance of the resue services and there place in the community is hilighted


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