I once found a baby in the trash. On a beautiful summer morning we were engaged in our normal coffee and BS session when an alarm came in for the engine company. The horn went off. I didn’t pay much attention as I was riding on the ladder truck that day.
The pumper bros rushed out of the kitchen while I continued to eat my breakfast of eggs and green chili. In double company stations there are generally two kinds of trucks, a pumper truck, that’s the one that carries the water and hoses and such and runs their wheels off all day and night.
Then there is the ladder truck, the one with the big ladder on its back, it carries lots of ladders hence the name. It also carries rescue equipment, the jaws, and truckies. For that day I was a truckie. Truckies are the well rested firefighters that are called out for rescue, fires and the random medical call while the pumper is unavailable.
At that point in time I was not a paramedic, I was an EMT as were all my co-workers, so we weren’t powerless on medical calls we just didn’t do as many as the pumper jockeys.
We heard the update from dispatch that the engine was responding to a female with severe bleeding, and then went back to our conversation and meal. About ten minutes later the phone rang and I answered it. It was my captain from the engine.
“Hey Tim give me Bob”, Bob was my lieutenant on the stick. “Hey Lou it’s the captain.” I handed him the phone to my lieutenant and watched. It wasn’t normal for an officer to call the station while on a call. “Okay Cap we’re on it.” Bob hung up the phone, “Let’s roll guys, Cap says there is a baby in a trash can over on (whatever street)”
We ran to the truck, babies in any emergency situation are scary for two reasons, one they are babies and most of us were fathers. Second because they are babies, they can’t talk to you, they can’t explain what is wrong with them, and they make a lot of noise. I worked with a guy that was always relieved when babies were crying loudly, because sick babies don’t cry. That is scary. So scream your little heads off, it’s a good thing.
Once on the truck the Lou explained that the patient they were with was a teenage girl that had delivered a baby that morning by herself before going to school. She thought the baby was dead and had put it in a brown paper sack and hidden it in the trashcan behind the house.
Your mind fills with so many thoughts at that point, first off how terrible for a girl to deliver a baby by herself and then have it be a dead baby. Then go off to school and be hemorrhaging in a dirty school bathroom. Tragic, where were the parents? How do things like this happen? Buy you get used to things like that on the job.
We got to the address, nice little house, well kept structure and yard, flowers were blooming, the lawn was mowed, perfect slice of Americana. The Lou says it’s in the trash behind the house.
We moved around back, it was a nice day bright sun, no neighbors watching, very quiet I remember. As we rounded the back of the house there was a short little wooden fence in front of us, as I went for the gate a dog charged me from behind the fence, we all fell back a bit startled and froze up for a second.
“It’s just a damn dog get in there.” the Lou barked right back. “We got the dog TimO, you get the baby.” said my old pal Tommy. We bunched up like a SWAT team at the gate, me at the end of the stack, Tommy and Greg the other firefighter in front of me.
“On three.” “Three” Tommy yelled at the dog and yanked the gate open, he and Greg charged at the dog and I slipped in behind them and went for the trashcan. I pulled the lid off the blue can and right there on top of the trash was a neatly folded brown paper sack. I could tell by the way it looked this sack hadn’t just been pitched in the trash; it had been placed there with care.
There was a layer of clean newspaper layered under the bag; I think to keep it from touching the real garbage. As the dog retreated snapping and barking with Tommy and Greg yelling and flailing I reached in for the bag and grabbed it.
I got the brown sack up to about shoulder height when the baby cried inside the bag. It scared the shit out of me and I almost dropped the bag. “It’s alive.” I yelled. The others spun around and looked. The Lou yelled “get out of there”. I ran from the yard and headed to the truck.
I opened the bag and there was a freezing cold, blue little blond girl, she was shaking and crying. I snatched her out of the bag to cuddle and warm her, I tried to get as much of my warm skin on her as I could, I yanked my shirt open and pressed her to my chest, talking to her the whole time.
She was making those wonderful little baby noises and I called for the baby warmer. We all gathered around her like four men and a baby. Here is this precious and not so tiny (over 8 lbs.) baby and four hulking truckies. Great day.
Turned out later that the mother was in fact the niece of one of my fellow firefighters that day. He had just seen the girl and no one had a clue she was pregnant, she had concealed very well. The mother and father were just kids themselves. They married had a bunch more kids are still together today. A couple of years ago I got a photo in an email that said “Do you recognize this girl?”
It was a high school graduation photo; there stood a beautiful young woman in her cap and gown, smiling a brilliant smile. The next sentence said, “You pulled her out of a trashcan 18 years ago.” Good day that one.