It’s been said that among the many challenges emergency dispatchers everywhere face is that they must calmly and professionally help people who are calling on the worst days of their lives.
Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, not all of these calls have a happy ending. Other times, you may not know the results once paramedics, police officers, or firefighters arrive on the scene.
On rare occasions, EMDs may play a key role in bringing a new life into the world. These are special experiences that can make the stress and pressure of the job all worth it.
Some emergency dispatchers can go an entire career without assisting in the delivery of a baby. Those who have been through this know how gratifying it can be to give childbirth instructions over the phone to a father or other bystander and to then hear the healthy cry of the infant.
For Garfield County Emergency Communications Authority (Rifle, Colorado, USA) emergency dispatcher Michelle Raymond, her recent baby delivery call was especially emotional.
On Feb. 26, Raymond took a call from a father whose wife was going into labor. The couple hadn’t made it to the hospital, so this delivery was going to happen at home. By the time Raymond began asking the Key Questions, contractions were two to three minutes apart. Plus, this was baby No. 4 for the couple, so Raymond knew time was of the essence.
Raymond remained cool and correctly followed protocol by asking the right questions and giving proper instructions. Within five minutes, a healthy baby boy was delivered.
Raymond’s supervisor, Gena Baker, was so impressed with the way she handled the call that she nominated her for the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch® Call of the Week. The IAED™ recognized Raymond with the award.
“[Raymond] remained completely calm while speaking with the baby’s father and giving him instructions about preparing for the birth and steps after delivery,” Baker said. “She did an exceptional job, and, after review, her call was scored as High Compliant! When it was all over, Michelle had to take a moment to recover from the rush of emotions and then dove right back into calltaking and her normal duties. We are very proud of how she handled the call and served this family in our community.”
This was Raymond’s first-ever baby delivery call. It’s an experience few of her colleagues have ever had.
“It is very rare to get a call resulting in a baby being born before the paramedics arrive on scene or before the mother is taken to a hospital,” Raymond said. “It is very uncommon for our dispatch center to help deliver a baby. Only a small handful of my co-workers have had the privilege of taking a call like this.”
But Raymond’s case is even more unique. When she took this call, she was seven months pregnant with her first child.
This added element did not detract from Raymond’s sense of duty, but she said it did heighten her feelings.
“I believe I would have handled this call with the same amount of care and professionalism whether I were pregnant or not, due to the severity of the call,” she said.
“However, after the call I did have overwhelming feelings of accomplishment and joy. I believe being pregnant and helping deliver a baby added to the emotion. I cried for at least 10 minutes while all of my co-workers gathered around. They were tears of pure bliss.”
As part of her Call of the Week award, the IAED pitched story ideas to newspapers and television stations in and around Rifle. The media were intrigued by Raymond’s experience.
In the days and weeks following this call, several publications contacted Garfield County Emergency Communications Authority and interviewed Raymond. Her story was featured on a Denver (Colorado, USA) TV station1 for its morning news. Even the titan news agency Associated Press picked up the story. It was featured in media all over Colorado and even in the Seattle (Washington) Times2 and the national publication U.S. News & World Report.3
1 “Dispatcher helps deliver baby.” 9News. KUSA-TV. 2018; March 29. http://www.9news.com/video/news/local/dispatcher-helps-deliver-baby/73-8060659 (accessed April 10, 2018).
2 “Colorado emergency dispatcher helps couple deliver baby.” Seattle Times. 2018; March 24. https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/colorado-emergency-dispatcher-helps-couple-deliver-baby/ (accessed April 10, 2018).
3 “Colorado emergency dispatcher helps couple deliver baby.” U.S. News. U.S. News & World Report L.P. 2018; March 24. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/colorado/articles/2018-03-24/colorado-emergency-dispatcher-helps-couple-deliver-baby (accessed April 10, 2018).