Syracuse Zoo team delivers visitorâ??s baby

Delivering a baby was all in the dayâ??s work for a response team at Syracuseâ??s Zoo, the Real Heroes Medical Award honorees

A team set up for quick responses to medical emergencies at Syracuseâ??s zoo

Last December, a large group of refugee families was touring the zoo at Burnet Park when 21 year old Oo Meh went into labor.

The call went out to the Zoo response team, which usually handles minor medical issues like cuts and scrapes, and three on-duty employees headed to near the bear exhibit, expecting to provide a wheelchair to start her trip to the hospital.

Instead, they found the woman ready to give birth, so called for blankets (another visitor had donated his coat for her to lie on), and the baby, not due til January, was born within minutes.

Elephant keeper John Moakler had assisted in animal births, but never expected a human one as part of the job. Liz Schmidt and Sarah Kohler said the team was able to help, in part, because of annual refresher courses from the Red Cross.

The baby, named December, was just 4 pounds 9 ounces, but completely healthy with a full head of hair. The family, which emigrated from Burma, now has life memberships to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.

The response team now wears stork pins, received as part of a commendation from Rural Metro Ambulance. Sarah Kohler, John Moakler and Liz Schmidt are also now honored with the 2013 Medical Award recipients for the Red Cross Real Heroes.

The Real Heroes stories are produced jointly by CNYCentral and YNN. Read more about this yearâ??s awards, and see the stories by searching â??Red Cross Real Heroes 2013â??