Southold EMTs help deliver baby in ambulance

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Expectant mother Dina Raddatz woke up at her home in Southold early Thursday morning feeling a little strange. Her son wasn’t due for three weeks.

“The next thing I know, she says her water broke and she says we have to go to the hospital,” her husband, Brandon, recalled Friday. The baby apparently didn’t want to wait until his March 2 due date.

A crew of Southold Fire Department first responders were in the area when the couple called 911 and helped deliver Silas William Raddatz — weighing 5 pounds, 8 ounces — in the ambulance on the way to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead.

“We are very grateful,” said Ms. Raddatz, who gave birth on Main Road in Mattituck around 3:30 a.m.

The ambulance crew that helped bring baby Silas into the world was on its way back to the firehouse from Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport after transporting a man in cardiac arrest. The first responders tried CPR and a defibrillator. The patient didn’t survive, fire officials said.

“One dies and then one is born an hour later,” Southold Fire Department assistant chief Peggy Killian said. “It was sad and happy at the same time.”

Fire chief Jim Rich, who responded to both emergencies, said he’s proud of his crew.

“You have a tough, very bad call and you have what I would say is a pretty rewarding call,” he said.

First responders carried Ms. Raddatz out of the house and into the waiting ambulance. As they loaded her in, Mr. Raddatz leaned in and kissed his wife. The fire chief, who said he’s often seen family members kiss loved ones goodbye, said it was heartening to see that happy moment.

Mr. Raddatz followed behind in his car as she was taken to the hospital. Ms. Raddatz said she was especially grateful to Michelle Salmon, a former classmate from Southold High School who — in a twist of fate — was one of the EMTs who helped deliver the baby.

Ms. Raddatz’s mother, Marijo Smith of Astoria, said she started driving out to the East End as soon as she got the call.

“I couldn’t even get on to the Grand Central [Parkway] yet and they were sending me photos of the baby,” she exclaimed. “It’s a day we’ll never forget.”

The couple and their newborn, who is their first child, were still in the hospital Friday morning, having made it into the hospital a few hours before Thursday’s blizzard.

Silas Raddatz is only the eighth baby in Southold Fire Department’s history to be born on the way to the hospital, fire officials said. Mr. Rich credited the teamwork of the crew who handled the labor call.

“In my opinion, doing something like this is a team event,” he said. “Someone had to take care of the baby. Someone had to take care of the mom.”

The Raddatz family were glad it was the Southold crew that helped them in their time of need.

“They’re a phenomenal group of people,” Ms. Smith said.

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Photo credit: Brandon Raddatz