South San Francisco firefighters deliver baby boy

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KTVU) - South San Francisco firefighters respond to about 7,000 calls every year, but earlier this week, one of those calls resulted in a special delivery.

"This was a special call and it was a special day for that family, and we're really pleased we were a part of it," said South San Francisco Fire Chief Gerry Kohlmann.

That special day started early Monday morning, when a healthy, 7 pound baby boy was born in the back of a South San Francisco Fire Department ambulance, on Highway 101.

"What city he was born? We're not sure if it was Millbrae, San Bruno or Burlingame," said Firefighter-paramedic Jesse Lange with a laugh.

What mattered most to him and the other firefighters in the ambulance, is that the delivery went smoothly.

At 3:45 a.m. Monday morning, the baby's mom and dad called 911 when they realized they wouldn't be able to make it to the hospital in time on their own.

"Right when we got there, she told us, the baby's coming," Lange said.

And she was right - baby Frank Edward Mendez Jr. arrived on the road, 15 minutes into their trip to the hospital.

"He was definitely determined that day," Lange said of the baby. "You can tell he's going to be one of those kids that's going to be in a hurry."

Lange and the other firefighters in the ambulance are all trained paramedics. They took action when they realized the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby's neck.

"What's unique about South San Francisco Fire Department, every first responder we have either is, or has been a paramedic in their career," Kohlmann said.

The fact that every firefighter who was in the ambulance that day is a parent also helped.

"With three kids, you're used to seeing the whole process," Lange said. "You know, it always hits home."

Firefighters are planning a reunion with mom and baby at the fire station next week, where they'll give the little guy some toys and an honorary uniform – an infant-sized t-shirt that says, "South San Francisco Fire Baby".

"He's already got his ambulance experience," Lange laughed.