Woman gives birth at Balzac firehall

Story by Stacie Gaetz


Photos by Courtesy of Rocky View Firefighters IAFF Local 4794

A Linden woman recently welcomed her fourth child into the world in a rather unorthodox place.

Randi Dyck gave birth to her son on April 10 at the Balzac Fire Station.

Dyck and her husband Peter, who live on a farm near Linden, realized on their way to the Arbour Birth Center in Calgary that they were not going to make it and Peter made the call to pull into the Rocky View Fire Services Balzac Station.

“It was so surreal,” says Dyck.

“I feel like I was just along for the ride… my body did all the work, and so quickly I barely had a chance to process what was happening. I was so grateful for a warm place with blankets and water, and that I didn’t have to give birth on the side of the road with only the one towel we had with us!”

Dyck’s due date was April 16 and she started having contractions on the night of April 9. At about 11 am on the 10th, the contractions changed, and she made the call to her midwife Christia Copeland and got on the road.

“By the time we’d been driving for 10 or 15 minutes, the contractions, which had been six minutes apart when we called the midwife, were only three or four minutes apart,” says Dyck.

“This being my fourth labour, I’m pretty familiar with what it feels like when it’s time for baby to come, so by the time we were nearing Balzac I knew we weren’t going to make it.”

The couple has three other children ages six, four and two.

Rocky View Fire Services Balzac Station Captain Devin Teal was at the hall with five other members when the Dyck’s pulled in.

He says it is not a new thing to have people in need of help show up at the station but a woman in active labour is something he hasn’t seen at the firehall before.

“I just did my best to assess the situation and initiated a call to EMS,” says Dyck, who “caught” Dyck’s son when he was born.

“She was in active labour and it escalated quickly. It wasn’t long from the time she came into the station until the birth, literally minutes.”

Dyck says the firefighters set up some mats and blankets and suction for the baby and she gave birth in a bay among the fire trucks.

“They helped me inside, listened when I said, ‘he’s coming NOW!’ And, thank goodness, were ready with a blanket when I suddenly pushed and out he came in one push!” says Dyck.

Teal says that although he was in the room when his children were born, being the one to assist with a birth was new for him.

Charlie Teal Dyck was born at seven pounds five ounces. Dyck and Peter were so impressed with Teal’s help that they decided to use his last name for their new son’s middle name.

“It was very touching that they used my name,” he says.

“It was definitely an honour.”

Copeland arrived two minutes after the birth and assessed Charlie.

“I arrived with all of my out-of-hospital delivery equipment and supplies and was able to take over from the firemen to complete all of the postpartum care and newborn assessments,” says the member of Airdrie Midwives.

“I often joke with my clients that they have a choice of birthplace – home, birth centre, or hospital – but please not on the road! In this family’s case, they lived quite far out rurally, so they preferred to come into the city and deliver at the Arbour Birth Center. If it wasn’t for the fire station, it would have been a roadside birth, so all in all, it worked out really well.”

She adds that she has never been a part of a birth at a firehall before, but it was a great experience of interprofessional collaboration and teamwork between the firefighters and midwives.

Once mom and baby were medically cleared, the couple was able to take Charlie home.

Dyck says that she is happy her unusual birth story has brought people some joy and glad to be a part of some good news.

“Charlie seems to have gotten all of his drama out in his birth and is a very easygoing baby who lets me sleep way more than is fair to most new moms,” she adds.

What did the mom take away from the experience:

“Hold your birth plans loosely, folks. Midwives are awesomely adaptable and I highly recommend finding one if you’re pregnant.”