Mesachie Lake’s Herrington family: dad Shaun, mom Cara, eldest daughter Charlotte, and new arrival Violet, who was born in a hurry on Sunday, March 7. (Angie Hughes photo)

Mesachie Lake’s Herrington family: dad Shaun, mom Cara, eldest daughter Charlotte, and new arrival Violet, who was born in a hurry on Sunday, March 7. (Angie Hughes photo)

‘We’re not going to make it to the hospital’: Mesachie family welcomes new baby in dramatic style

‘I’m not going to do this in the car, and we’re not going to make it [to the hospital]’

Mom Cara Herrington of Mesachie Lake was expecting her second child on March 11, but wanted it to be over with sooner — something a lot of expecting moms can understand. She wasn’t ready for the birth to happen when it did, however.

“I was waiting and waiting, hoping she would come early,” Herrington said. “But not as fast as she did.”

Herrington woke up around 4:15 a.m. on Sunday, March 7, when her water broke. After calling the hospital for advice, she was making her way downstairs to the door when she had two quick contractions and knew there wasn’t enough time to make the drive to Duncan.

“I looked at my husband and said, ‘Call an ambulance. I’m not going to do this in the car, and we’re not going to make it [to the hospital],” Herrington remembered.

An ambulance was on its way from Lake Cowichan, and the dispatcher instructed Herrington to get to an open space in the house, so she went from the mud room to the living room. Her husband, Shaun, just happens to be a four-year member of the Mesachie Lake Volunteer Fire Department, and he sent for his colleagues just in case the ambulance didn’t arrive in time. Of course, by nature of the small community, as soon as they got the call that someone was giving birth, they knew exactly who it was.

Shaun was still on the phone with the dispatcher when Cara started getting “small urges to start pushing.” The dispatcher “switched gears,” Herrington recalled, preparing the family for a home birth. Get some string, she told them, a bobby pin, and scissors.

The ambulance arrived in about 10 minutes, and when Cara and Shaun opened their front door to walk to the ambulance, the entire fire department was standing outside.

“It was like, ‘hey boys,’” Herrington laughed.

Cara was strapped into a gurney and was loaded into the ambulance. With Shaun preparing to drive the family car to Duncan, deputy fire chief and close family friend Tyson Allnutt was given the job of riding with Cara in case the paramedics needed a hand.

They hadn’t even left the driveway when Cara told them to stop.

“Don’t go anywhere,” she told them. “We’re not going to make it.”

Neither of the paramedics — both named Sarah — had delivered a baby before, but they were going to have to do it this time.

In Cara’s telling, it was a relatively easy birth, as these things go. One really strong contraction, and the baby’s head was completely out. The next contraction got her out past her shoulders. By 4:45 a.m. — half an hour after Cara woke up — Violet Luene Herrington was out in the world, surprising all the responders.

“They were all kind of looking at each other, like, ‘OK, there’s a baby here now,’” Herrington recalled. “My husband and Tyson looked at each other, ‘That was crazy.’”

Like all firefighters, Allnutt had trained for such a situation, but never expected to be part of a birth.

“It’s one of those things, you practice for it, and then you joke around that it’s never going to happen,” he said. “Then it happens.”

Both paramedics, Sarah Mooney and Sarah Spencer, were excited to take part in their first delivery. Mooney has been a paramedic with BC Emergency Health Services for 12 years, including 10 in Lake Cowichan, and Spencer has been a paramedic for more than four years, including three in Lake Cowichan. Emergency responders earn a stork pin for attending their first birth.

“Even though they were nervous about it, they were excited about it,” Herrington said.

After the birth, Violet was cleaned up and taken to hospital in Duncan, where they confirmed that she was healthy. She is now home with mom Cara, dad Shaun and two-and-a-half-year-old sister Charlotte. Charlotte’s own birth came after a relatively quick eight hours of labour, but that was ages when compared to Violet’s. Charlotte has been very welcoming to the newest addition.

“She’s been very helpful, very loving,” Herrington reported. “She said, ‘I’ve been waiting to hold her in my arms.’”

For Allnutt and the rest of the fire department, it was a unique event in multiple ways. It’s much more common for firefighters to attend tragedies than miracles.

“The coolest part is that normally, where a life would be lost, in the back of an ambulance, a life was gained.”

cowichan valley

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vandals burned a hole in the platform at the top of the Somenos Marsh Open Air Classroom early on the morning of Thursday, April 22. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson closes Somenos Marsh viewing platform

Fletcher estimates the damage at more than $5,000.

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
AstraZeneca vaccine appointments fill up fast on Vancouver Island

More pharmacies expected to be added as supply increases

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map shows new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 11-17. (BCCDC image)
BCCDC says fresh COVID-19 cases down in most Island Health areas

Nanaimo sees its fewest new COVID-19 cases since mid January

More sleeping cabins for the homeless in the Cowichan Valley could soon be put in place if a $2.5-million grant application to the UBCM Strengthening Communities’ Services funding program is successful. (File photo)
Funding sought to expand homeless initiatives in Cowichan Valley

$2.5-million grant would see more sleeping cabins and outreach projects

The old Stanley Gordon school in Lake Cowichan. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette file)
Editorial: Old school properties represent potential for our areas

There are opportunities, often sitting right in the middle of our small communities.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

The conservation service confirmed they do not relocate cougars from settled areas but that euthanasia is not necessarily the fate for an animal in the Fanny Bay area. The hope is that the animal will move on to wild areas. (File photo)
Woman hopes cat-stalking Fanny Bay cougar can avoid euthanization

Conservation officers do not relocate the animals from Vancouver Island

Tofino residents expressed frustration over a recent post by Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett that falsely claimed all residents have been vaccinated. (Westerly file photo)
Resort owner apologizes for suggesting Tofino is safe to travel to

Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett apologizes to community and visitors

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Most Read