All Matt Johnson and Robert Feltwell knew about delivering babies came from a video they watched years ago, when they trained to become Wildwood firefighter/EMTs.
Real life, they learned Tuesday morning, is a little more exciting.
The two men, with 15 years’ experience between them, delivered a baby boy at about mile marker 7 on the Garden State Parkway.
“It’s pretty amazing. It’s not something you plan to do when you come to work,” Johnson said as he and Feltwell sat in the Fire Department’s headquarters next to City Hall.
Johnson, 25, and Feltwell, 29, responded to a 911 call that came at 7:51 a.m. On the other end of the line a mother of three reported that her water had broken, and that baby number four was on the way.
The ambulance arrived at the home on Leaming Avenue minutes later and they — the mother, her boyfriend, Johnson and Feltwell — headed to Cape Regional Medical Center in Cape May Court House.
“She said her contractions were coming on top of one another. Then she said she felt the baby coming. It was crowning,” Johnson said.
Johnson realized the baby’s arrival was imminent and he told Feltwell to pull over.
The ambulance stopped on the parkway median and Feltwell went to the back to help with the delivery.
“All the training just kicked in,” Johnson said. “It felt like an eternity, but it was probably just two or three minutes.”
Then the baby boy arrived.
“The baby was crying pretty quickly, so that was good,” Johnson said.
Feltwell cut the umbilical cord as Johnson held the boy, and after checking that all was well with mother and baby they continued the short trip to the hospital.
“It was a good feeling,” Feltwell said. “Everybody was nervous back there. It was just a great experience, I guess, for all of us.”
Feltwell has been with the fire department for 10 years, and Johnson has been with the department for five years, but Tuesday’s delivery was a first for both.
“We’ve had maternity calls where the water broke, but no actually delivery before,” Feltwell said.
Now they have earned a new nickname — the doctors — at the firehouse, and co-workers are urging Feltwell to add a stork tattoo to his collection of body art.
“It’s not often you get to have a good story,” Johnson said as the two recalled the many shootings, stabbings and car accidents they have responded to each year.
But Tuesday, they agreed, was the happiest day of their careers to date.
“By far,” Feltwell said. “By far.”
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