Dispatchers to the rescue

Published 9:26 pm Saturday, March 5, 2011

Delivering babies: Rachel Gayle is one of two Emergency Communications Operators who helped deliver babies in recent months. Gayle credits her success to experience, training and the step-by-step instructions provided by the Medical Priority Dispatch System. When Gayle receives a call, she asks questions and inputs the caller’s response into the system. This provides her with detailed instructions on how to respond to the specific incident.

Suffolk 911 dispatchers are unsung heroes

Suffolk 911 dispatchers do more than just tell firefighters and police officers where to go.

Sometimes, Suffolk dispatchers are taking calls and notifying agencies. Other times, they are acting as dispatchers for the police department, fire and rescue, police information channel and more.

Recently, two Suffolk 911 dispatchers even helped deliver babies.

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Lartara Frazier helped guide a husband through all of the steps he needed to assist his wife in delivering their fourth child in the front seat of his Dodge pick-up. The husband and wife were on their way to Sentara Obici Hospital, but the baby was ready to enter the world sooner than either one of them expected.

On Jan. 1, the couple could only make it as far as the Pruden Center on Pruden Boulevard before they had to pull over to deliver the baby.

To assist the couple, Frazier asked the expecting father, Rodney Taylor, how far along his wife was, if there were any complications during his wife’s previous pregnancies, if he could see the baby and more. She walked him through several detailed steps, from the moments when he could first see the baby to cleaning the baby and tying off the umbilical cord.

The resourceful father used his own jacket and a shoestring from the shoe he was wearing to clean up the baby and tie off the umbilical cord.

Taylor could be heard saying a prayer of thanks to God after the successful delivery.

Frazier congratulated the parents and stayed on the phone with Taylor until the paramedics arrived.

According to a city press release, Frazier’s supervisor didn’t find out about the delivery until weeks later, since Frazier considered her assistance part of her regular duties.

Three weeks later, dispatcher Rachel Gayle helped guide a grandmother instructing her daughter from another room in the delivery of her great-granddaughter.

“I got a call apparently from a grandmother about a granddaughter giving birth,” Gayle said.

The grandmother relayed the instructions to her daughter, who was attending to the granddaughter giving birth.

“She relayed it verbatim,” she said. “It was very important that she did that. She followed it to the ‘T.’”

The baby had been born by the beginning of the call, but the family was concerned about the baby’s breathing and they hadn’t yet tied off the umbilical cord or finished cleaning up the baby.

Gayle was able to walk them through these necessary steps so that the arriving paramedic found the mother and baby in good health.

In both deliveries, the dispatchers asked identical preliminary questions and offered identical instructions for cleaning up the baby girls and tying off the umbilical cord, making use of detailed instructions from the new Medical Priority Dispatch System.

Prior to using this system dispatchers had to use reference cards.

“The old ones we had were very confusing,” Gayle said. “There weren’t many pre-arrival instructions.”

Gayle said she feels better prepared with the new computerized system, as it was reviewed by paramedics and doctors and takes her step-by-step through the process. This system is being used in several other local cities and all over the nation, she said.

“I think they both did an outstanding job,” said Suffolk Police Sgt. Sandy Springle. “They used their training, and stayed calm throughout the whole incident.”

“They’re both great dispatchers,” she said. “They are the unrecognized heroes.”