May 2, 2017 7:00 am
Updated: May 2, 2017 8:12 pm

Fort McMurray family looks back at birth of first child: ‘May 3 was actually my due date’

WATCH: As many mark the one-year anniversary of the Fort McMurray fires this week, many families are celebrating first birthdays. Reid Fiest introduces us to one of the wildfire babies, and how Suncor Energy turned one of its airports into an evacuation centre.

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Even before the Fort McMurray wildfire broke out, the day was going to be memorable for first-time parents Fallon and Stefan Spohr.

“Well, May 3, (2016) was actually my due date,” Fallon Spohr told Global News.

“I was officially 40 weeks pregnant on the day of the evacuation.”


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The couple had a previously scheduled appointment at Fort McMurray’s hospital. When they left the hospital, the wall smoke and flames was beginning to emerge, and they knew they had to flee.

READ MORE: One year after wildfire, was the evacuation of Fort McMurray called at the right time?

They returned home to pack the essentials, and on cue, the evacuation faced complications.

“While we were going north with everyone else, Fallon was having labour pains,” Stefan Spohr recalled.

They joined the traffic on Highway 63 and arrived at an oilsands camp to get help. Fallon was immediately put in an ambulance, because her contractions sped up.

Her husband followed in their car as paramedics sped to Suncor Energy’s Firebag airport about 120 kilometres north of Fort McMurray – where officials were gathering patients forced out of the hospital.

Normally the private airport ferries oilsands employees in and out of the work camps, but that day it became an evacuation centre.

READ MORE: ‘We pulled it off’: Suncor airport supervisor recounts converting hangar into hospital 1 year after Fort McMurray wildfire

Dozens of planes were being contracted to fly in to get patients and evacuees help.

Suncor Energy’s Myles Tuttle was the airport manager on duty and recalls helping Fallon and Stefan when they arrived at the makeshift hospital set up in a maintenance tent.

“We took our equipment out,” Tuttle recalled.

“We turned on the sweepers and swept the floor as we were pulling them out of the shop.”

Tuttle says amid the chaos in Fort McMurray, everyone on his team, along with Alberta Health Services, rose to the occasion to help every patient needing care, including Fallon.

“She arrived by ambulance and we knew she was very close to giving birth, and we were even preparing for that to take place here.”

READ MORE: ‘We got the job done’: Nurse describes Fort McMurray hospital evacuation

A medevac flight touched down before that happened, and flew Fallon to Edmonton.

On May 4, 2016 Kennedy Spohr was born.

This week, her parents celebrated their daughter’s first birthday early with friends and family in B.C. looking back at what happened 12 months ago.

“There’s a lot of stories about the destruction and hard things that people went through, but Kennedy has always been a good news story for us,” Stefan Spohr said.

“The baby who brought us a lot of hope in a scary time,” Fallon Spohr said.

 

Stefan and Fallon Spohr celebrate the first birthday of their daughter, Kennedy, who was born on May 4, 2016 after the couple fled the Fort McMurray Fires.

Submitted: Stefan Spohr

 

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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