Officer helps deliver back seat baby

WHEN police community support officer Jonathan Burke signed up for the force, he expected to walk the beat and act as a reassuring presence in his rural community. He never thought he would act as a makeshift midwife.

Dave Gooderham

WHEN police community support officer Jonathan Burke signed up for the force, he expected to walk the beat and act as a reassuring presence in his rural community.

What the young officer was not counting on was to play a vital role as makeshift midwife.

But that was exactly the dramatic situation facing the 22-year-old when Sarah Fitt began giving birth to her second child, Genevieve, as she and her husband, David, drove through Ixworth on their way to the maternity unit at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

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The actions of PCSO Burke were praised by the couple after the safe delivery outside a tea room in the village's High Street while the officer described the ordeal as a “one in a billion” chance.

“I never thought signing up for the police force would involve midwifery,” PCSO Burke said. “There was no time to think and we had to stay calm so Sarah did not panic or get stressed.

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“I can't believe I had to deliver a baby in the back seat of a car in the middle of nowhere but fortunately it went smoothly. Until you get into that situation, you never know how you are going to react but I am pleased with how it went.”

The drama unfolded on Wednesday when Mr Fitt, 43, a distillery manager for The English Whisky Company near Thetford, rushed his wife to hospital when she went into labour.

But the couple, of East Harling, near Thetford, realised they would not make the maternity unit in time and made a forced stop in the middle of Ixworth where they ran into PCSO Burke, who was prepared to go that extra bit further for the community he serves.

Realising that a police escort would not come in time, Mrs Fitt, 36, had no choice but to give birth in her husband's Skoda Octavia.

A relieved Mr Fitt said: “Fortunately, mother and baby are absolutely fine but if it hadn't have been for Jonathan, things could have been a lot worse.

“Sarah was slightly shocked but she didn't have time to think about giving birth in a car and we all stayed calm.

“We had hoped for a police escort but when I got back in the car, Sarah said the baby was already coming and within minutes the baby's head was visible.”

While paramedics and local doctors were called, PCSO Burke and Mr Fitt were left with the task of delivering the baby themselves.

Mr Fitt said: “Jonathan was brilliant at keeping us up to date with how close the ambulance was and constantly asking us if there was anything he could do.

“Then, before we knew it, Sarah pushed and our daughter was born. I just took her, wrapped her up and put her on Sarah's tummy.”

Despite the unusual entrance to the world, Genevieve was quickly checked over by paramedics and doctors from the village surgery and both mother and baby were back at home the next morning leaving the family to reflect on the extraordinary birth.

“Jonathan is quite a young guy but he was perfectly calm and professional,” said Mr Fitt. “He was fantastic and we have nothing but praise. He not only made sure our car was taken to the hospital and parked outside. He then took the trouble to go to the hospital shop and bought a card and a pink teddy bear and sent it up. It meant the world to us.”

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