Off-duty firefighter delivers baby in a car

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — A young mother wasn’t going to make it to the hospital in time to deliver her baby, but luckily help was on the way!

She was on her way to the hospital to deliver her baby boy, when she had to have her mother-in-law pull over the car. Kim Johnson was terrified.

“That was the fastest delivery I ever had, and I’ve got other kids!” said Johnson. “By the time we were headed to the hospital, she just kept on asking – do we need to pull over, do we need to call the paramedics? I just kept thinking I could make it to the hospital…I didn’t make it.”

Johnson’s mother-in-law was out of the car as traffic whizzed past on McFarland Boulevard. She had called 911, but Johnson was in the passenger seat–and the baby was coming.

Meanwhile, Lt. Steve Stark with the Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service was out running some errands on his off day when he noticed a car pulled off in the grassy median. He saw a woman, clearly upset, on the phone. “If somebody needs help, I’m going to do what I can,” said Zark. “It’s just the feeling that I had. So I rolled my window down and I said, are you okay? Can I help you out?”

The next thing Zark knew, he was delivering a baby.

But there’s a catch. While Zark is a trained EMT, he’s part of the fire department’s hazmat crew.  He had never delivered a baby before…and he had certainly never done it without all of the tools that he would normally have as a firefighter.

“We found a hair ribbon and actually tied off the umbilical cord with a makeshift tourniquet,” explained Zark.

He also used a blanket or sweatshirt–he doesn’t remember–to keep the baby warm and clean him off.


“The Lord placed me at that moment to help her out,” he said.  “They needed help, so I was just a tool.”


The delivery took less than two minutes. Zark said, it was smooth–exactly like what they teach in the book.

“Other people had stopped, asking if I needed help, and I could hear the mother-in-law behind me saying, ‘oh he’s a fireman, it’s okay’.  That’s when I was like, okay- there’s no fire in this car!”  laughed Zark.

After the paramedics arrived, Zark left without even knowing the mother’s last name.

“I wished her well, I said, hope everything turns out okay, and I went about my day.”  But Zark couldn’t keep the story to himself for too long. He told his wife about it when he got home.  ogether, they went to the hospital to see if they could find the mother and baby.  They went to the well-baby nursery where a nurse noticed them and asked if they needed help. Zark asked if any babies had come in that had been delivered on the side of the road, and he and was invited to meet with Johnson and baby Braylen.

“I thought I was hearing wrong when he told me,” laughed Johnson, after learning this was the first time Zark had ever delivered a baby. “He told me after everything happened, but I’m glad it was successful!” Johnson also expressed how touched she had been that Zark and his family had come to check on her.

Several weeks later, he visited Johnson and Braylen at home–this time with a gift. It was a toy firetruck. Zark had made lettering that said Tuscaloosa and stuck it over the toy label so that the truck is a model of what his station uses.

“It was a wonderful gift for him,” said Johnson. “His first little firetruck…from the man that rescued us.”

Johnson says she plans to stay in touch with Zark so that Braylen can come to the fire station when he gets a little bit older.

“I said, he might be a firefighter,” she said with a smile. “You never know.”

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