Steamboat Springs Sitting at a red light on Lincoln Avenue at 13th Street early Sunday morning, Sharon Ward knew she wasn’t going to make it all the way to the hospital. Nine days overdue, her water had burst just a few minutes before, and now it was a race to the hospital. But first she had to get all the way across town, including through a downtown construction zone.
Her husband, Trevor Ward, had woken up at 4 a.m. as usual. Sharon Ward stayed in bed awhile longer, but she started to feel contractions. She had given birth to daughter Jordan Ward five and a half years ago, so she knew the drill.
But she didn’t think it was time.
“I was having contractions, but I didn’t think they were the real big ones,” she said Tuesday. “Apparently they were.”
She told her husband to walk the dog as they prepared to head to Yampa Valley Medical Center. But just a short way down the street, the dog refused to go any farther. He turned around, and led Trevor Ward home.
“I think the dog knew before we knew,” Sharon Ward said.
After her shower, Sharon Ward began to think it might be time. She wasn’t certain, though, so she called her sister, Deb Sitzmann, to her side.
“She came into the room and my water broke, then it was on,” Sharon Ward said. “It was like the mad dash.”
At 6:30 a.m., with her sister and mom taking care of their daughter, Trevor and Sharon Ward — owners of Steamboat’s Crown Prints — got into their Toyota 4Runner and headed toward town. They had 5.8 miles to get from Steamboat II to the hospital.
“Pretty quickly, we found out we’re probably not going to make it,” she said.
At 13th Street, they were stuck behind a couple cars at a red light.
“I was basically telling Trevor, ‘You’re going to have to go around those cars,’” she said.
But because of construction, there was no fast way through the downtown traffic. At 6:39 a.m., Trevor Ward called 911 and asked for an ambulance, then drove to the fire station at Yampa and Ninth streets.
There, paramedics and EMTs loaded Sharon Ward onto a gurney and into the ambulance.
Paramedics Chuck Cerasoli and Dave Hesselton were in the back, along with EMT Matt Mathisen. EMT Kerry St. James was driving. They had 2.5 miles to go.
“We checked to see how far along she was when we were at the fire station still, and we thought we had a little more time,” Hesselton said Tuesday.
The ambulance drove down Yampa Street, then up onto Lincoln Avenue. But the baby was coming faster than anyone expected.
“Just before Rabbit Ears (Motel), we looked and the baby was crowning, so we knew we didn’t have any more time,” Cerasoli said.
The ambulance pulled into the east parking lot at the Rabbit Ears Motel, still 2 miles from the hospital. Sharon Ward was in full labor.
“With all these guys, especially my husband who I know is medically capable as well, it was very comforting,” Sharon Ward said. “I knew I could do it.”
Trevor Ward, a former EMT, helped deliver his second child, Banks Gabriel Ward, at 6:45 a.m., just six minutes after he called for an ambulance and 15 minutes after he left home.
At 7 pounds, 4 1/2 ounces, and 20 inches long, Banks Ward was a healthy baby boy.
Hesselton said it was the first birth he assisted with, aside from cesarean sections he attended in paramedic school. Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue ambulances are stocked with a kit to handle a variety of complications, but the birth went smoothly.
“I think I got the easiest one in history, there was nothing challenging about it,” Hesselton said. “They teach you all these things that could go wrong, and nothing did. It was easy, simple — and I don’t know if I said this, fast.”
It was the first natural birth Cerasoli attended to, as well, and he said the happy moment was rare for the back of an ambulance.
“To have a happy, beautiful event like that happen in the ambulance, as opposed to a lot of the tragic events we see, it was pretty incredible,” he said.
Sharon Ward said that if it wasn’t for her husband’s quick thinking, her son would have been born in the car.
After 24 hours in the hospital, mother and child were back home with family. Sitting on a couch in his dad’s arms, Banks Ward was wrapped snugly and sleeping Tuesday afternoon.
“He’s doing great,” Trevor Ward said. “As crazy as it was, everything went absolutely perfect.”