Scottish Ambulance Service call handler saved baby's life after holiday drama

The parents of a baby who was born premature in a Fife Air BnB have thanked the Scottish Ambulance Service call handler who helped save his life.

Wednesday, 23rd March 2022, 4:01 pm
Lorna, centre, with Fraser, Alex, left, with Max, and Tony.
Lorna, centre, with Fraser, Alex, left, with Max, and Tony.

Alex Clayton, from Yorkshire, was on holiday in a cottage in Ceres, Fife in June 2021 with her husband Tony and young son Max, when she went into labour early, at 34 weeks. The family had been recovering from a bug when Alex woke in the night feeling unwell. After going to the bathroom, she realised her waters had broken, and the baby was half-delivered breech, which meant his head was stuck.

Tony called 999 and call handler Lorna Milward, based at the Ambulance Control Centre in Inverness, talked him and Alex through every step in the bathroom of the cottage. When the baby was delivered, he was unresponsive and Lorna guided Tony through the resuscitation process until he started to breathe.

Following the arrival of the ambulance crew, Jordan Cooper of Glenrothes Ambulance Station and Lynne Robertson of Leven Ambulance Station, Alex and their baby boy, who they named Fraser, were taken to Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, where Fraser was kept in intensive care for a week until he was well enough to go home.

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Lorna, who received a commendation for her actions, has been a call handler for a year and half, and this was the first baby she helped to deliver.

She was delighted to meet the family for the first time, almost nine months after the incident, after they got in touch with the service. They met at Edinburgh ambulance station, where Max was also given the chance to view the inside of an ambulance.

Lorna says: “I was always wondering about them, so I was pleased to get the chance to be able to meet them in real life. Once you are finished with a call you go straight onto the next one, so it was amazing to find out what happened, and to meet Fraser.

“Alex did so well. It was the first time a call like this had come through for me, and when I realised it was a breech birth at home, that the baby was the wrong way round, I knew that it would be challenging. It was a traumatic, life-changing moment for both Alex and Tony, so I knew I had to keep them calm and deliver the instructions on what to do, until the paramedics arrived. Alex and Tony worked well together which was vital in the safest delivery and care of Fraser, given the traumatic circumstances.”

Alex says: “It all happened so quickly, but I just remember how Lorna was so good at giving directions to us over the phone. If it wasn’t for Lorna, I don’t think Fraser would have made it. We hope we can stay in touch and keep her up to date with how he’s doing, as she is now part of our family story.”

Tony says: “When I realised what was happening I was terrified and felt utterly out of my depth. Lorna was the very opposite; cool, calm and collected, she was able to talk me through something which I would never have been able to do without her on the end of the phone. We will be forever grateful to her.”