By: Heather Darata
Lisa and Bob Burton included Allyson Gentry’s name in their daughter Darcy’s baby book as “present” during the newborn’s delivery, even though they’d never met.
Sound like a strange thing to do? Not really. Gentry, EMD at Ramsey County Emergency Communications Center in St. Paul, Minn., was present for Darcy’s entrance into the world—over the phone anyway.
It all began on Jan. 31 around 3 a.m. when Lisa Burton woke up and almost immediately her water broke. She woke up her husband Bob, who dialed 9-1-1. Gentry answered his call for help, discovering Lisa was having contractions.
Bob put Gentry on speakerphone and followed her instructions to help Lisa lie down on the floor. Gentry guided Bob step-by-step during the delivery using the Medical Priority Dispatch System(MPDS), and, in a matter of minutes, baby Darcy made her way into the world.
After confirming the baby was breathing, Gentry told Bob to dry off Darcy and wrap her up to keep her warm. When she asked Bob to find a string or shoelace, he didn’t look around for a pair of shoes. He already had something else in mind: a zip tie.
“He was real creative when it came down to tying the umbilical cord,” Gentry said.
Medics arrived several minutes later after making their way to the Burton’s home in a snowstorm. Gentry disconnected but it wasn’t even a month before she heard from the Burton’s again, receiving a letter of appreciation.
“They also included a picture of their family and it was so nice to put a name with a face,” she said.
The connection didn’t end there. In April, the Burtons made the trek to the communications center, giving Gentry the opportunity to hold two-month-old baby Darcy, showing her off to her coworkers, and to meet their preschool-aged son.
And it’s all because of a conversation Bob’s brother Bill Burton, Motorola account manager for Ramsey County ECC, and Scott Williams, Ramsey County ECC director of emergency communications, had after Bill mentioned his brother’s call to 9-1-1 for a baby who wouldn’t wait.
“You know, this sounds really familiar,” Williams remembers thinking. “It was pretty obvious this was the same call.”
Williams asked Bill if the family would be willing to meet Gentry and have their story shared in the local newspaper during National Telecommunicator Week.
That’s exactly what happened.
“It’s crazy how things unfolded,” Gentry said. “It was just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It was really special to me.”
The birth of Darcy Burton was Gentry’s first “start-to-finish” baby delivery in the nine years she’s worked at Ramsey County ECC.