Elise Cutler was 25 weeks pregnant and on her way to hospital for a check-up when she suddenly went into labour in late October 2015.
With Elise’s mother driving, and Elise’s two year old daughter in the back seat, baby Sienna was born in the front seat of the car on the Ringwood Bypass near Eastlink during the morning peak.
Paramedics Kate Whiting and Justin Ho were in the first ambulance to reach the scene.
Kate said Sienna was critically unwell.
‘I’ve never seen a baby that small,’ Kate said.
‘She had a heart rate of about six, and a respiration rate of about four. She was just taking gasps. The heart rate would usually be over 100.
‘We ventilated her for 30 seconds which got her heart rate up a little bit but not enough so we started to do chest compressions as well.’
Two minutes later MICA paramedics Matt Richardson and Jonathon Haines arrived.
‘We had everything ready to go for a potential resuscitation of a newborn however Justin and Kate had done an amazing job before we got there,’ Matt said.
‘Sienna was starting to “pink-up” very, very slowly so we continued with oxygen and assisting her breathing with a bag valve mask. Her heart rate came up and she started making more movements that were more positive.‘
Everything was in Sienna’s favour.
The Royal Children’s Hospital Paediatric Infant Perinatal Emergency Retrieval (PIPER) team was nearby at Maroondah Hospital which allowed for timely specialist care.
A third ambulance was dispatched to take Elise to hospital. Sienna was discharged after seven months in hospital and has reunited with the paramedics who helped care for her during her first few minutes of life.
Matt said outcomes like this made it worthwhile.
‘I wasn’t expecting such a good outcome. When this tiny individual gets handed to you that fits into the palm of two hands, you don’t expect such a good outcome so it’s fantastic to see how active she is.
‘It’s why we do our job. For all the sad things you see, these sort of things make turning up to work so much easier,’ Matt said.