Calif. Firefighters Help Deliver Baby at Homeless Camp

March 16, 2013
A baby was born in a tent in a homeless encampment in Victorville and San Bernardino County firefighters transported the mother and child to the hospital for further care.

March 15--VICTORVILLE -- San Bernardino County firefighters helped a homeless couple delivered their baby girl at a Victorville homeless encampment Friday morning.

"When we arrived, the mother was being assisted by a male and another woman inside a tent," said Jay Hausman, spokesman for the fire department.

The infant girl had already been born and firefighters assisted with cutting the umbilical chord. Paramedics then transported the mother and child to a local hospital, officials said.

Firefighters received a call at 7:09 a.m. regarding a childbirth at a homeless encampment in the river bottom of the Mojave River, the near the corner of D and Sixth Streets, said fire Dispatch Supervisor Tim Franke.

The birth of the baby marks the second time a homeless woman from the same area has delivered a child in less than a week.

On March 9, a woman was rushed to a local hospital where she gave birth to a healthy baby girl, according to Annie Lancaster, the founder of Mojave Animal Rescue which works to provide medical care and supplies for the pets of the homeless who live in the High Desert. Through her non-profit she has also worked to supply homeless families with help.

"Both families were absolutely over the moon over the birth of the babies," Lancaster said Friday in a written exchange.

The first woman and her husband, who have not been identified, have moved from the area and have found support and a place to live in order to raise their child, Lancaster


The woman who gave birth Friday already has a place to stay once she's released from the hospital, Lancaster said but would not say where the woman and child would be staying or who facilitated the location.

According to county fire officials, rescuers are responding to about a dozen medical aid calls in the river bottom area every month.

"The overwhelming majority of calls we run in that area are for single men, however it's not as uncommon as it used to be to be running on females in that area," said Eric Sherwin, spokesman for the county fire department in a recent interview.

The news of the second baby being born to a homeless woman sent a buzz through social media Friday.

On a Facebook group, Victor Valley News Group, many people posted positive messages for the mother and child, but there were several people who wondered what would happen to the child.

One person, though, inferred that the family would now be taking advantage of the already-taxed public assistance system while another blamed the couple for their situation.

Lancaster bristles at comments like the last saying both families had fallen on hard times after the main bread-winner lost his job.

Homelessness can happen to anyone, Lancaster said adding she has seen more women and couples living in the encampments recently.

The issue is not unique to the High Desert, though.

The San Bernardino County Homeless Partnership reports that a one-night count of the county's homeless population in 2011 found 1,306 men and 202 women living on the streets. The count also showed 29 boys and 155 girls were homeless.

According to the report, 12.5 percent of those counted were families and 31.6 percent were women and children.

Lancaster noted that the homeless count is not accurate as not everyone is accounted for due to the transient nature of their lives.

Statewide the numbers are not encouraging.

Nearly 10 percent of children who live below the poverty level in California suffer from more than one chronic medical condition, according to a 2010 study by Homeless Children America. More than 10 percent have no health insurance.

With nearly a third of the state's population spending half of their income on housing, the HCA study found, the loss of one income can lead to catastrophic events including homelessness.

The HCA study says a family needs an income of more than $25 an hour to be able to rent an average two-bedroom home in California. With the state minimum wage at $8, many families teetering on the edge of homelessness must rely on some sort of help be it public assistance or family and friends.

Reach Melissa via email or call her at 909-386-3878.

Get the latest crime and public safety news on Twitter @IECrime.

Reach Beatriz via email, call him at 909-386-3921, or find her on Twitter @IEBeatriz.

Copyright 2013 - San Bernardino County Sun, Calif.

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