If a paramedic was ever born, not made, Mike Lam would be it.
Now providing advanced life support to patients in San Francisco, the Bellevue native owes his own life to paramedics who delivered him as a home breech birth 29 years ago. Lam is planning to come to Bellevue this month to meet one of those paramedics, firefighter Marty LaFave.
LaFave received an email from Lam in December. He was surprised and pleased to find out that that baby from long ago, turning blue because he was coming into the world feet first, was living a full life, and following in LaFave's own career footsteps.
Learning that Lam, the son of refugees from war-torn Vietnam, had not only survived, but thrived "is the cherry on a great career cake," said LaFave, now a battalion chief.
In 1983, when he helped deliver Lam, LaFave was a brand new paramedic. At the time of Lam's birth, breech babies born at home had less than a 5 percent chance of surviving. Luckily for him, the firefighters and paramedics from Fire Station 2 had been trained to deliver babies coming out feet first instead of head first.
LaFave remembers Lam's birth well, when he saw two little blue feet and knew the baby was in trouble.
"I wondered how that case had come out," LaFave said. "We had to resuscitate the child, and we wanted that newborn to have all the chances at a full life."
Three years after Lam's birth, he and his family moved to northern California. During a visit to Bellevue when he was in high school, Lam learned about the remarkable circumstances of his birth from the Medina man who had sponsored Lam's family's arrival from Vietnam to Bellevue.
The story had a powerful effect.
After graduating from high school, Mike earned a degree in fire science and attended emergency medical technician school in northern California. He spent six years as an EMT, then studied to be a paramedic at the City College of San Francisco, earning his certification in March 2010.
Lam said that when he was in high school, considering careers, being a paramedic "seemed like a cool job.
"I wouldn't be here without those guys."
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