A new father has praised the search and rescue team from RNAS Culdrose who helped deliver his son mid air.
Baby Marcus Daniel McLachlan was in such a rush to arrive that by the time the crew landed at Truro’s Royal Cornwall Hospital their numbers had risen from seven to eight.
As reported by the Packet earlier today, the rescue helicopter 193 from 771 squadron was scrambled just after 5pm last night to help his mum Ella, who had gone into labour on the Isles of Scilly.
The helicopter paused only to pick up midwife Sue Merritt from Helston Birthing Centre – something which is standard practice for any expectant mothers – before collecting Ella and partner Barney.
With just ten minutes to go before reaching the hospital, however, baby Marcus decided it was time to arrive.
Pilot Flight Lieutenant Jon Owen said: “I gave the crew a ‘tenminutes left to run’ heads up so they could prepare for arrival. However, the midwife shouted back that baby was preparing for his own immediate arrival and that we needed to get ready to deliver in the air.
“I simply looked at the other pilot, Lieutenant Paul Smalley, and we continued to fly as mother nature took over”.
Mrs Merritt was helped in the delivery by Petty Officer Aircrewman Gary Kneesh and Lieutenant Commander Chuck Norris, the observer on board who has had specific training for a whole range of medical emergencies – although this was his first birth.
Describing it as “an exciting evening” Chuck said: “It’s pretty uncommon to announce to the coastguard that you had launched with seven persons on board, but were preparing to land with eight!”
Search and rescue aircrew are trained for such events, but it is extremely rare, with this believed to be only the second baby born in a Royal Navy helicopter.
Baby Marcus was born weighing 5lb 3oz at 7.24pm approximately two miles south east of Truro at 150 feet. It is unsure at this stage what location will be on the birth certificate.
On arrival Ella, baby Marcus and dad Barney were quickly whisked away to be cared for and are said to be doing well after the excitement of the journey.
Mr McLachlan, a baker on St Martin’s, said: “We thought we’d have a relaxing day. Then at the end of the afternoon Ella started feeling some cramps. “We went to see the midwife for an examination and she confirmed Ella was in labour and that she needed to call Culdrose to pick us up.
“The Culdrose boys were immense, absolutely phenomenal. At one point they had to shine a light for Sue. They were hugely caring and did us brilliantly. They always deliver and always look after us.”