Metro police traffic warden Ashley Diedricks thought he was on a routine morning shift when he was called on to help deliver a baby boy on a pavement in central Durban.
The baby’s birth on Dr Pixley KaSeme Street on February 16 this week earned Diedricks and his fellow officers high praise from the city and metro police. Each of them received a letter of commendation for their brave act.
The eThekwini municipality praised Diedricks on its social media platforms.
Diedricks told TimesLIVE on Tuesday that while it was not his first delivery, the experience was “humbling”.
He and his team were stationed at their patrol point when they were alerted about a pregnant woman who had gone into labour.
“When I got to the lady, I could see her water had broken and she was about to give birth. She was surrounded by people. I think she was in shock because she was quite calm.”
Diedricks, who had been a firefighter for 12 years, drew on his paramedic training. However, he did not have any medical equipment to assist with the delivery.
“When I called it in on the radio, a lot of guys came to assist. There were seven of us and a member of the public who also helped. I didn’t want to invade the mum’s privacy, so I asked the lady to check if she was crowning. It all happened very fast,” he said.
He said there was no time to “stand back and do nothing”.
“We tried to get a maternity pack including gloves from a clinic around the corner.”
His crew formed a human shield around the woman and blocked the view of curious onlookers with a blanket.
“Myself and the lady who was assisting managed to deliver the baby. From the time I got to her, she delivered within five to six minutes.
“We were desperate for clamps, because the baby was out and we didn’t have any equipment. Two of our members flagged down an ambulance driving past. From there it was smooth sailing, we had the clamps from the ambulance to secure the baby. The mum was stabilised.”
Diedricks said the baby boy responded immediately by crying.
“It was not the first time I delivered a baby. When I was with the fire department I delivered a few babies. People used to come to the fire station around 1am or 2am in the morning. They couldn’t make it to the hospital and would deliver in the station. It’s always a humbling experience.”
He believes the mother deserved praise. “She did all the work, we just helped her along. She was in a bit of shock, I never got her details. We just wanted to make sure she and the baby were fine,” he said.
“This was not just me — it was team work.”