With her due date still two weeks away, Karen Hollander was finishing some last-minute baby shopping Tuesday afternoon when the mother of five suddenly felt the familiar pang of going into labor.
"I started walking to my car and I started feeling contractions like every minute," Hollander, 40, said.
She called her husband, who was at home painting the baby's room, but quickly realized she wouldn't make it to their arranged meeting point in time. So the Great Neck woman pulled into a Bank of America parking lot on Middle Neck Road and called 911. "I realized this baby was coming," Hollander said.
Two or three minutes later, Nassau County police Officer Daniel Fliedner showed up, she said, and called in ambulance medical technicians to take her to the hospital.
Of her five deliveries, Hollander said, this was by far the quickest -- police said they received the call for help at 4:19 p.m. on Tuesday, and Nassau County AMTs Jose Hernandez and Matthew Gordon said the healthy baby girl was delivered in the back of the ambulance, two minutes away from the hospital, at 4:35 p.m.
Cradling her newborn daughter, named Alexandra, and surrounded by her husband and four sons at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset on Wednesday, Hollander and her husband thanked Fliedner, Hernandez and Gordon. As she spoke to reporters, she shared an emotional moment with the AMTs, who physically delivered Alexandra.
"This was definitely very unique, and an incredible feeling" because it happened on Christmas Eve, Gordon said. "I've never had one of these before."
During the rescue effort, husband Roger Hollander, a Hewlett-Packard executive, had been anxiously calling his wife's phone. Eventually, Fliedner picked up and told him his wife was on her way to the hospital and that they would meet him there.
"The response time was shocking -- how fast it happened," Roger Hollander told reporters Wednesday. "Being reassured in that time of uncertainty was fantastic, really."
Gordon and Hernandez have both delivered babies as part of their jobs as AMTs before, they said. But this was the quickest delivery they've had -- they loaded Hollander into the ambulance at 4:32 p.m., and three minutes later she gave birth at Northern Boulevard and Community Drive in Manhasset.
It also was the most outstanding birth either of the men have been a part of, they said.
"I guess she wanted to make a grand entrance and make sure everybody knew she was important, too," Karen Hollander said.