Soldiers praised after helping deliver babies

Adam Hale, PA Wales Correspondent
·3-min read

A pair of British Army soldiers have been praised after they helped two mothers with the births of their babies.

Serjeant Wayne Delahunty, 35, and Lance Corporal Dan Ells, 25, jumped into action during separate call-outs with the ambulance service.

Both men, from 1st Battalion The Rifles based in Beachley Barracks, Chepstow, are among 60 soldiers from army units in Wales who have been trained to support the Welsh Ambulance Service during the coronavirus outbreak.

Their link-up is part of UK Defence’s 20,000-strong Covid Response Force, set up to put service personnel and reservists on standby to support public services in response to the pandemic.

Coronavirus – Tues Apr 7, 2020
Members of the British Army during training to support the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust (WAST) in the battle against Covid-19 at the Sennybridge Training Camp in Mid Wales (Jacob King/PA)

Former carpenter L/Cpl Ells is a section second-in-command who has been with 1 Rifles since 2015, having been deployed overseas on exercises and operations to Afghanistan, Kenya, Bosnia and Georgia.

He was working in the Tredegar area of South Wales around midnight when he was called to a home to assess a pregnant woman.

He said: “We were called to a house and the idea was to assess before a crew arrived to take over, and it seemed like we had enough time, but then all of a sudden the baby started coming.

“I’ve not been involved or seen a baby born before but I wasn’t nervous about it at all because the paramedics we work with are absolutely fantastic. Whatever is going to happen, they are 100% in control.

“I can remember a feeling of excitement. It was all new to me. It’s very humbling. When you join the Army the idea being at the birth of a newborn was something I could never have imagined being involved in.

“The paramedic I was with took the lead on it and my role was to provide pain relief. But when the baby came the umbilical cord was wrapped around its leg so I was asked to help to untangle the cord. I then continued to administer pain relief with gas and air.”

Sjt Delahunty, a former nightclub manager who has been with 1 Rifles since 2008, serving two tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, was also working in Tredegar when he and a paramedic responded to a mother who was in labour.

He said: “When we got to the house the woman was ‘crowning’, which I believe is the term used for someone on the brink of giving birth. The mum was lodged in between the living room and stairway.

“I set up the gas and Entonox for pain relief and was helping to reassure the mum when the midwife came in to take over. I realised my calf was also involved in providing pain relief because, even though I didn’t offer it, the mum gave it a proper squeeze.

“I was just very happy to support the paramedic and midwife doing what they are absolutely brilliant at. Another paramedic who had been in the job seven years said to me I’d been really lucky to have witnessed a birth because sometimes years pass before they see one – it’s quite a rarity apparently.

“It was a magical experience to be involved in.”

Jason Killens, chief executive for the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, presented both men with Certificates of Commendation at their headquarters in Beachley Barracks.

Mr Killens said: “Delivering babies was probably the last thing that Sjt Delahunty and L/Cpl Ells expected to do when they joined us, but their quick-thinking actions and calmness under pressure led to two successful deliveries and we’re proud of them.

“There’s a tradition in the ambulance service where paramedics will try and persuade parents to name the baby after the person who delivered it, but I don’t think Sjt Delahunty and L/Cpl Ells were successful on this occasion, despite their persistence.”