On Jan. 9, Lompoc firefighters rescued a newborn just minutes old and the parents from a riverbed just before the storms hit.
“While preparing to depart, the pregnant woman went into labor earlier than expected. The husband assisted with the baby’s birth while they waited for emergency assistance. Our fire department was first on scene and assisted with moving the baby and parents out of the river bed,” Mayor Jenelle Osborne told the News-Press in an email.
At 11:43 a.m. on Jan. 9, the Lompoc Fire Department was in the 2000 block of North H St. checking on black smoke they had seen earlier. While there, they discovered a white female adult actively giving birth with the assistance of the child’s father. The fire department contacted them while they formulated a plan to rescue the trio, as they were surrounded by water flowing through the riverbed.
“The fire department’s Engine 52 and Rescue 51 responded with Medic 7, and Medic 134 to reports of persons trapped in the river bottom. Crews responded to the 2000 block of North H, to find multiple persons trapped by rapidly moving water,” Fire Chief Brian Fallon told the News-Press in an email. “One victim was a pregnant female in active labor. Prior to the arrival of the fire department, the victim had given birth. The fire department arranged a rope system in order to safely bring the victims to shore, using a pendulum system. Complicating some of the rescue efforts were victims attempting to self-rescue. Due to the quick intervention of the Lompoc fire department efforts were made to safely affect the rescue.”
“The mother and child were transported by American Medical Response (AMR) and Medic 134 to the emergency department for further care. Lompoc fire crews are trained for these types of incidents. Due to the extensive hours of training in urban search and rescue training, Lompoc firefighters were equipped to mitigate the incident and affect the rescue. Urban search and rescue training involves rope systems management, confined space, search and rescue, and other technical rescues that are above and beyond the basic firefighters’ training. These skills are trained upon and honed by the Lompoc City Fire department for such occasions as these,” said Chief Fallon.
“This was not ideal for either the couple and baby or our emergency responders. Both the sheriff’s department and our local police department had spent time and resources to notify those residing in the riverbed that it was dangerous to remain in the riverbed with the oncoming storms and expected flooding. No one should have been residing in the river bed. It is unfortunate that the county had not invested the time and money to address the issue of those living in the river bed prior to this series of storms. I appreciate our firefighters’ quick response and the safe resolution to a dangerous situation,” said Mayor Osborne.