Quick-thinking garda used shoelace to deliver baby during rush hour traffic

A quick-thinking garda used a shoelace to tie the umbilical cord of a baby born during morning rush hour at traffic lights near Galway City as the parents rushing to reach the University Hospital had to settle for a car seat birth instead.

Emma Miskell and her partner Sean Flynn from Cloondahamper, Lavally, Tuam realised that their speeding to the hospital was in vain, even with a Garda escort, when baby Darcy Mae arrived in the front seat of their car 4km away from the hospital.

Garda Claire Grenham, who was in the squad car driven by colleague Garda Brendan Owens, jumped out and used her shoelace to tie the baby’s umbilical cord while waiting for the arrival of an ambulance.

Garda Grenham, the mother of an 18-month old baby, says this emergency roadside midwife task was something she never thought she would have to do as a Garda.

“I was in phone contact with a paramedic in the ambulance on its way from the hospital and he told me to tie the umbilical cord once the baby was three minutes born and use a shoelace if I had one.

“I took the lace off my boot and tied the cord while we waited for the ambulance to arrive five minutes later. Once we saw the baby’s tiny hands move and she let out a little cry we were happy that she, and her mum, were OK,” says Garda Grenham.

The unassuming garda said “it was easy to do all I did” as Emma had done all the hard work by delivering the baby herself.

But she had a little help and encouragement from partner Sean who was driving and their teenage daughter Megan who, according to her mother, was timing the contractions from the back seat.

“We had the baby at the traffic lights just as we were pulling in and while Sean was still driving. He was brilliant in the situation,” says proud mum Emma.

“He had to push down my pants and then out she came straight away with a little cry. Sean cut the cord and the Garda tied it with her shoelace as once a baby is born more than three minutes you have to clamp the cord.”

Emma says that when doing a “birth plan” she wanted their teenage daughter Megan to be in the labour ward for the first part of the birth and to be godmother for the baby. But she never anticipated Megan would “get a bird’s eye view of all the birth from the back seat of the car”.

It was the happy ending to a high-speed drama that unfolded when Emma’s contractions started at home at 7.20am and Sean, Emma and Megan tried to make the 25 mile journey to the Galway hospital.

Garda Owens said his part in the incident was “miniscule” apart from driving the escort car through the heavy morning traffic and making sure they could do so safely.

“Sean kept a cool head but when I saw the warning lights flashing in his car I knew the birth must be happening and we guided the car to the side while ensuring all other traffic passed by safely,” said Garda Owens.

“When everybody goes home safe with a new life coming into the world, healthy and happy that’s a good morning’s work for all,” he concluded.


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