Wednesday is NSW Thank a Paramedic Day and perhaps no one will be saying more a more deeply heartfelt thank you to paramedics than grateful Kelly and Alan Stocks of Karabar in Queanbeyan.
As previously reported by The Canberra Times, at 3am on one recent Saturday morning Kelly Stocks found herself at home alone and suddenly, imminently, about to give birth. Understandably "freaking out" she dialled 000 and then had the dramatic and remarkable 20 minute emergency conversation, some of it presented here, with triple-0 control centre officer Melissa Arnold in Wollongong.
"I'm in labour ... I'm by myself," a gasping Kelly Stocks annouces.
Kelly Stocks of Queanbeyan, gave birth to Lila home alone, with the assistance of the 000 call centre. Adoring dad Alan Stocks looks on. Photo: Melissa Adams
Then as you can hear, during that 20 minutes, with an ambulance and its paramedics summoned by Arnold and bustling from the Canberra Hospital towards Queanbeyan, Kelly, alone on her couch in the living room, gave birth to her baby girl with Arnold's telephoned professional instructions beautifully mixed in with warm, sisterly reassurances.
All at once, because Arnold is so very good at her job and is such a good soul (and is as well, she tells us, a mother of three and so someone who really did understand some of what was happening to Kelly 184 kilometres away) Kelly Stocks wasn't totally alone after all.
Then, with the baby only just born, there on the couch, the ambulance and its paramedics arrived, and, after all that high drama, there was the happiest of endings. The baby girl, Lila, blessed with a terrific thatch of black hair (father Alan of the RAAF jokes that she has not only his dark hair but his "hair style") seems to this reporter who has been to see her, one of the very loveliest babies there has ever been. She is serene, too, blissfully unaware of the turbulence and angst of her delivery.
Ambulance NSW Control Centre Officer Melissa Arnold with baby Lila Stocks and mum Kelly Stocks from Karabar. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Kelly Stocks and Melissa Arnold, both of whom were full of praise for one another after their hectic dialogue-across-the-distances on that Saturday morning, are scheduled to meet in the flesh at Karabar this afternoon. A kind of hard-to-define bond was made between the two mothers by what they shared together over the telephone.
"Melissa was wonderful, she was the best," Kelly Stocks reminisced at Karabar on the day she brought Lila home.
"Kelly was great!" Arnold remembered.
"[Laughing] She actually kept me calm! I just kept telling her to breathe whenever she had a contraction and kept reassuring her and reassuring her and telling her I was with her."
Their meeting this afternoon promises to be an especially touching occasion but it won't surprise if the serene Lila sleeps through it, oblivious to being the lovely occasion's cause and sponsor.
Meanwhile, and although we've singled out the special Karabar kerfuffle for special mention, there will be a torrent of thank young going on to mark Thank A Paramedic Day. To place the Karabar event in the great scheme of things, Ambulance New South Wales, organisers of the Day, advise that in 2011-12, NSW paramedics responded to an average of 3234 calls a day, the the equivalent of a call every 26.7 seconds. In the last financial year 1,183,795 callouts were handled by the Ambulance NSW team of 4000 operational and non-operational staff.