Rebecca and Mason John Barlow

Rebecca and Mason John Barlow

It was a snowy day in August 2011 when Rebecca Barlow, 34 weeks pregnant, recognised the signs of labour.

“I initially thought it was just Braxton Hicks contractions, then I realised it was for real. We’d had heavy snow falls and Church Bay, where I live, is on the far side of Lyttelton Harbour 45 minutes from Christchurch. I didn’t know how I’d get to hospital with all that snow on the roads. The fire service got called, the army got called - even the coastguard got called!  Then St John phoned back and said they’d found a way to do it.”

St John’s rescue involved assistance from a Fulton Hogan grader driver, who offered to lead the way along the narrow hill road to Church Bay. Chains were fitted to the grader and the St John ambulance, then the emergency services convoy got rolling.

In the meantime, St John arranged assistance for Rebecca from two locals – a registered nurse and a midwife from nearby Diamond Harbour. They stayed with her until the ambulance arrived.

“It was nerve racking because I’d had a premature birth with my first pregnancy. The trip to Christchurch was slow – it took  about three hours because of the road conditions. But the ambulance officer knew what she was doing. She said that it was all going to be OK and they could manage the delivery in the ambulance if needed. She gave me confidence that it would turn out right. As it happened, my labour lingered on and I ended up getting induced in hospital and having the baby the next day!”

Rebecca’s new son, Mason John Barlow, is healthy and thriving. He and his mum are grateful that “good old St John came to the party”.

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