Longtime Richburg Fire Chief John Agee has seen it all in five decades as a volunteer. He’s seen uncountable deaths, saved lives, been punched and kicked.
Wednesday he got kicked again. The kicker was impatient, but this time there was a good reason. Agee, with an assist from other volunteers, delivered a baby boy at a Richburg motel in Chester County.
“The momma couldn’t wait and the baby couldn’t wait,” Agee said. “When a baby is comin’, he’s comin’. And he was comin’.”
The 911 call for medical assistance at the Relax Inn, near Interstate 77, went out around 1 p.m. Volunteers at the fire station are trained in rescue and other emergency medical procedures. The station is just east on S.C. 9 from the motel. Agee, Assistant Chief T. Melton, David McCain, Jo Beth Gaston and Dale Holmes all went to the call -- and arrived before the ambulance.
“That baby wasn’t waiting for the ambulance,” Melton said.
Agee, a father and grandfather, squatted in front of the mother, delivered the baby and cut the umbilical cord.
“The baby was a lot more handsome than this old man who brought him into the world,” Agee said.
The work was not done.
The ambulance workers had to take care of the mother and baby. So Agee hopped in the ambulance and drove all of them to Lancaster’s Springs Memorial Hospital. McCain, a volunteer for six decades, drove a fire truck to Lancaster to get Agee.
The mother of the baby, Maggie Crouch, said Thursday by phone from her hospital room that Agee and all the others were “amazing people.”
“That fire chief saved my life and my son’s life,” Crouch said. “I thank him and all of them.”
Crouch, 24, of Chester, who has two other kids, was with others who had to stop at the motel when her water broke and labor started.
“There wasn’t time to get to the hospital,” Crouch said. “He came early.”
Crouch and Fabeon Gladney, the baby’s father, named their son William Bryson Gladney.
“And we can always tell him the fire chief delivered him,” Crouch said.
Agee accepted no praise. He said a volunteer’s job is whatever it takes. Just Monday, in a crash, he had worked to save a teen from Fort Mill who ultimately died.
Agee’s own grandchildren go to Nation Ford High School with the teen. His tough heart -- Agee once had a heart attack on a fire call yet refused to quit helping others -- ached.
“Just when your heart is so broken you don’t think it can be fixed, a baby is born and all that we see in life in this business is right there again,” Agee said.
Melton, the assistant chief, said volunteers helped deliver another baby a couple of months ago. The volunteers joked about opening up another business: “Richburg OB-GYN,” Melton said. “We come to you.”