WESTERLY — Mariah Starratt was on her way to South County Hospital this month when her daughter decided it was time to join the family.
As her aunt Larine Risica was driving along Route 78, and Starratt’s mother following in a car behind them, Starratt said she felt an intense pain and the desire to “just push.” The Westerly resident said she knew immediately what it meant.
“Meadow is my second child, so I know the feeling when the baby wants out,” Starratt said by email this week. She said she told her aunt that “we needed to get help, so we pulled over at the 7-Eleven and she called 911.”
Shortly after calling 911, Starratt was met at the 7-Eleven on Post Road by Westerly Ambulance Corps EMS technicians Thomas Rozanski, Kimberly DePerry and Mariana Sanchez. Within moments, Starratt was in the ambulance headed toward the hospital — and that’s when Starratt said the baby would wait no longer.
“As we were driving, they were talking to me and holding my hand,” Starratt recalls. “I just had to push, and we pulled over a mile or so up the road near the Haversham Tavern. Meadow was born about five pushes later.”
Starratt and her boyfriend, Chad Algiere, are now celebrating the birth of a healthy 7.2-pound daughter, Meadow Rhodes Algiere. The baby was born just before 1 p.m. on Sept. 8.
If not for the assistance of the EMTs, Starratt said she doesn’t know what would have happened.
“The EMTs were amazing kind and helpful. They knew what to do and how to keep me calm,” Starratt said. “After the baby was born we had random conversations, and come to find out, Mariana Sanchez helped deliver my other son, Tucker, two years before.”
Kenneth Richards III, EMS administrator of the ambulance service, praised the work of his staff. He noted that transporting women in labor is not uncommon, but it’s somewhat rare to see a baby delivered in an ambulance. In recent years, he added, there has been more training for EMS technicians and the corps has taken steps to make sure they are prepared, especially since Westerly Hospital stopped providing labor and delivery services.
The nearest hospitals for delivery, either South County Hospital in Wakefield or Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London, are both at least a 20-minute drive away, Richards said.
As a result, he said, Westerly Ambulance staff members have delivered three babies either on scene or within an ambulance, and have assisted in five other cases in which the baby was born within five minutes or less of arriving at the hospital.
“I am so proud of our staff,” he said. “They maintain such professionalism in these situations and I can honestly say are probably some of the most knowledgeable providers in the area when it comes to delivery of babies.”