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Lynn Scurfield for The Globe and Mail

This is part of a series that looks at extraordinary experiences in personal health. Share yours at

It was Christmas Eve. I was in the last half-hour of my shift. We were all funnelling back to the station for a shift change when we got the dispatch call for a distress call. A mom was having her baby on the side of a very busy city street, literally just at the end of a highway off-ramp.

I happened to be just five to 10 kilometres away from where the family had stopped their vehicle. I'm in a rapid-response unit, in one of those SUVs, and the ambulance we work with as a team was just ahead of me. When I arrived, the two paramedics from the ambulance had already started to do their assessment and assist in the delivery of the baby. I came up right after them.

It became very fast-paced after that. We realized the baby was in great distress – vital signs absent. So we worked very swiftly to separate baby from mom to do what we needed to do to revive him. We did all this partly in and partly outside the family's minivan.

There's not a whole lot of time for emotion. In those types of instances, you rise to your training. So what was going through my head? A lot of protocols: What's next? Who do we need to communicate with? I really couldn't tell you if I felt frightened or not. You're just doing what you need to do.

I carried the vital-signs-absent baby to the waiting ambulance and handed him over to the crew so we could, as a team, really start to work on reviving him. Which was exactly what we did.

When the baby started breathing, that's when the emotions kicked in. That's when you know that everything has lined up and it has all paid off. Those first grunts and cries brought overwhelming joy. But you know the baby's not out of the woods just yet. You still have to get him to the hospital and into the care of the pediatric nurses and doctors to make sure everything is going well.

It's funny. I don't think a lot of people really understand how our lives work, but after we got him to the hospital, I knew I had to report back for duty in about nine hours, so I needed to get some sleep.

My wife is a paramedic as well, so I have no better partner in life – she knows what we go through. So I told her, "Hey, this is what happened on shift last night." And then I went to bed.

None of us involved in the call would know until Boxing Day, really, how the baby was doing. So that was in the back of my mind: "Gee, I wonder how the little guy is making out?"

When we finally got word that he was okay, I was just extremely proud. They don't all go that way.

We call these "career calls." We have good career calls and bad career calls. They're the ones you remember. Forever. They become etched into your psyche. Because this one went well, you feel amazing inside. You talk about it. I touch base with every one of my crew members who was involved in the call that night. And gosh, it's just an overwhelming sense of relief that, because of what we're trained to do and where we were, we changed a family's life that day. And that made a world of difference.

Career calls also usually have an anniversary date. So now, every Christmas Eve, I know what I'll be thinking about for the rest of my life.

Craig Hassberger is a platoon supervisor with the County of Simcoe Paramedic Services in Midhurst, Ont.

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