LAKE FOREST/NORTHBROOK — Mark Thompson is not a gynecologist but he knows how to deliver a baby.
Thompson is a firefighter paramedic with the Northbrook Fire Department who spent last Father’s Day bringing a baby into the world.
Thompson and four other members of the department were honored as heroes by Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital October 18 at the hospital for their effort along with 15 police and fire departments from Lake County and one more from Cook County.
This is the sixth consecutive year the hospital has honored first responders from throughout the area for efforts helping others. Several of those cited saved lives and Northbrook brought one into the world.
“What you do is important to our society,” said Dr. James G. Adams, a senior vice president and chief medical officer for Northwestern Medicine. “In this time of social instability trust has been lost. Trust in business is lost. Trust in politicians is lost. Your profession is the one trusted the most. You are one of the last groups of heroes we have.”
When it comes to heroism, Thompson is one to the Schneider family of Libertyville, according to an August 11 Chicago Tribune story. Chris Schneider was driving his pregnant wife, Kristen Schneider, to Evanston Hospital on June 19. She was in labor as they drove.
“We got a call to go to the Marathon station on Dundee Road (at the intersection of Waukegan Road) for a woman in labor,” said Northbrook Fire Department Lt. Joel Eaton in a DailyNorthShore.com interview at the Lake Forest event. We could see she was crowning and we had to deliver the baby right there.”
Thompson and Craig Skala, another Northbrook firefighter paramedic, were the ambulance drivers who secured Kristin Schneider and put her in the ambulance. They told Chris Schneider to get in the ambulance. Chris Schneider thought they would be on their way to the hospital but he quickly learned his child was about to be born.
Thompson said he and Skala took out the OB kit and got ready to deliver the baby. Little did Thompson know the delivery was about to become anything but routine.
“She pushed once and I could feel the head,” said Thompson in a DNS interview. “I could feel the umbilical cord around the baby’s neck. I slipped my finger underneath and pulled it over the baby’s head. There was one more push and the baby was out. It happened so fast.”
When it came time to cut the umbilical cord, Thompson said he gave Chris Schneider the opportunity.
“I’m a father and I knew it would be a special thing for him,” said Thompson.
Though Thompson said he has been around some births, this was the first time he was the person delivering the baby. Skala said it has happened only five times in his 15-year career at the Northbrook Fire Department. He estimates he has been on more than 1,000 calls.
“This was the most exciting call of my career,” said Skala in a DNS interview. “Many calls don’t have this kind of outcome.”
Northbrook Fire Department Capt. Dave Crawford called the delivery a “low-frequency, high-risk” event in a DNS interview. He said a lot of training goes into getting paramedics ready for a moment like this so they can perform as flawlessly as Eaton, Skalo, Thompson and Deputy Chief Daniel Quinn did last Father’s Day.
Other departments honored were the Countryside Fire Protection District, the Deerfield Police Department, the Deerfield Bannockburn Fire Protection District, the Grayslake Fire Protection District, the Great Lakes Fire Department, the Libertyville Police Department, the Libertyville Fire Department, the Long Grove Fire Protection District and the Lincolnshire-Riverwoods Fire Protection District.
Also feted were the Buffalo Grove Fire Department, the Palatine Fire Department, the Mundelein Fire Department, the Mundelein Police Department, the North Chicago Fire Department, the Greater Round Lake Fire Protection District, the Wauconda Fire Protection District, the Lake Zurich Fire Department, the Waukegan Fire Department, the Winthrop Harbor Fire Department and the Zion Fire and Rescue Department.