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Teen gives birth to twins on 5 Freeway

Burbank and Glendale firefighters respond to find one boy already born, and then help the mother deliver his brother.

August 29, 2007|By Jeremy Oberstein

BURBANK — A 16-year-old gave birth to twin boys Monday afternoon on the freeway, with the help of Burbank and Glendale firefighters.

The mother was traveling north on the Golden State (5) Freeway near Walnut Avenue when she went into labor, Burbank Fire Capt. Ron Bell said.

Though she reportedly went into labor at 11 a.m., the mother did not call 911 until her water broke at 1:23 p.m., Burbank paramedic Scott Owens said.


When firefighters arrived, they found the mother — whose name, city of residence and destination were not released — lying in the passenger seat of her car, the first baby resting on her stomach, bundled in a sweatshirt with the umbilical chord still attached.

“We got there, and one was already on her lap, said paramedic Scott Schweitzer, Owens’ partner. “She told me in Spanish that the next one was coming out.”

Paramedics believed the mother delivered the baby by herself, though her mother was a passenger in the car.

Fire engines blocked traffic but did not move the car, which was already parked between the fourth lane and the Walnut Avenue offramp in Burbank.

“The conditions were great. The traffic was very light,” Schweitzer said.

Owens said the mother was six months pregnant.

“They were maybe 3 pounds. It was so small. It was shocking,” said Owens, who has helped with several births during his 17 years as a paramedic.

At 1:29 p.m., Schweitzer delivered the second baby, which came out feet-first.

“Things seemed to move so slowly, but in real time, it happened so fast,” he said.

While the first baby was born without major incident, the second boy had trouble breathing, Schweitzer said. Owens performed CPR as the ambulance rushed to Providence St. Joseph Medical Center. He also performed other techniques to resuscitate the infant, such as flicking the bottom of its feet to elicit a response.

“It took a little while for his breathing to resume, but he seemed to have responded well,” Owens said.

Upon arriving at the hospital, both were placed in incubators and, according to Owens, the twins and their mother are doing well.

“It felt good, but it was very scary,” said Owens, a 25-year veteran of Burbank Fire. “With all the training we receive, and all the practice, there’s more pressure to do everything the correct way.”

Schweitzer said the Burbank Fire Department helps deliver about one baby a year, though not many occur on freeways.

“I have been a part of eight or nine [births], though this was my first time delivering twins. But this was my second on the freeway.”

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