Last week three Spokane Valley firefighters at Station 3 in Liberty Lake got the chance to meet a baby girl for the second time. Their first meeting in January was a little rushed: A man called 911 at 7:48 a.m. to report that his wife was in labor. The firefighters and an American Medical Response ambulance crew delivered a healthy baby girl at 8:04 a.m.
“She’s doing really good,” said the happy father, Joel Elgee. “We’re just so thankful.”
Elgee, his wife, Lisa Clarizio Elgee, and their infant daughter Leona brought cake to the station to express their gratitude. Hugs and handshakes were exchanged. Paramedic Nick Muzik, who caught Leona as she came out, held her in his arms. “It’s my first birth,” he said. “It’s pretty rare. It’s a pretty special time.”
Clarizio Elgee was three days overdue with her first child when her water broke early in the morning on Jan. 25. As a first-time mother, she was expecting her labor to be lengthy and decided to stay home and be comfortable as long as she could. The contractions weren’t strong and even stopped for a while.
“I could have gone to the hospital,” she said. “I didn’t think it would go so fast. It went from not very intense to very intense very quickly.”
She asked her husband to check her progress. He looked and wordlessly picked up the phone to call 911. He told the dispatcher he could see the baby’s head. “I was holding (Leona) back in while she was trying to push,” he said. “It was intense.”
Their house is on a hidden cul-de-sac near Rocky Hill Park. “We had to find your house,” Muzik said. “It took us six, seven minutes to get there.” Told the baby was crowning, no one took any time to park or turn around the fire engine. The crew simply left it in the middle of the street and ran inside.
“We were sure glad you came when you did,” Elgee said.
Clarizio Elgee had the birth all planned out. She had a midwife and a birthing coach. She took birthing classes that focused on relaxation. Having her first baby on her bathroom floor with several strangers in attendance wasn’t part of the plan. “I was going to have soft music,” she said. “I just remember lying on the floor and looking at all these black boots.”
Their professionalism put her at ease, she said. “When they got there they were just friendly and got right to work,” she said.
Firefighter Paul Turcotte was handing Muzik the supplies he called out for. Capt. Gary Collins, the only one on the crew with previous experience helping mothers give birth, was also assisting. Collins said he appreciates the family coming to the station to let the firefighters know everything is going well.
“We deal with the opposite in life,” he said. “It’s so refreshing and so rewarding to celebrate life coming into this world. It’s pretty rewarding when you have a day like that.”