Beyond Expectation

Cynthia Murray

Cynthia Murray

Dispatch in Action

Caroline Walker was content with her restaurant job until an injury made it difficult for her to stand through her shifts. Her sister-in-law, an employee of the fire department, encouraged her to apply to be an EMD/EFD for the Seminole County Communications Center in Florida (USA), and she found the new role suited her surprisingly well. After nearly two years, Walker felt she had struck gold in a career that is both fulfilling and unexpected.

Yet when Walker answered her emergency line one spring day, she could feel herself tense up at the caller's description: “My wife is in labor. The baby is coming out right now.”1 Though the father on the line was calm and in control, Walker felt understandably shaken.

“The Childbirth – Delivery Protocol has always terrified me,” Walker said. “I had dreaded the idea, thinking ‘Just don’t ever let me deliver a baby. I’m so scared of it.’” However, with a baby crowning and a father waiting for her instructions on the line, Walker found confidence in following the Protocol before her. “I like that you don’t have to really think about what you need to ask,” Walker said. “It’s just there.”

Thrown into unfamiliar territory, Walker said there was something oddly predictable about the call. An at-home, unexpected baby delivery is hardly routine, yet the baby’s arrival seemed to follow the flow of the Protocol nearly step by step, with every question Walker asked followed by the father anticipating the next set of instructions.

“It all happened so fast,” Walker said, but then came a potentially dangerous complication: The infant was delivered with the umbilical cord wrapped around the neck. Confidently, Walker guided the father to “Slide your finger under the cord, and without stretching the cord tightly, carefully pull it over the baby’s head.” With relief, the father confirmed that the baby was breathing, and a beautiful cry could be heard in the background.

Walker remained on the line for the next six minutes until the paramedics confirmed they were on the scene. The delivery felt like a blackout in her mind until she and her supervisors replayed the phone call. Walker later realized she didn’t even think to ask if the baby was a boy or a girl.

That question was answered nearly four months later when Walker saw a few familiar faces enter the communication center: Brian and Aisha Webb had come to pay her a visit along with their three children, the youngest daughter named Katherine Rose. Walker said, “I was sitting in the corner when I turned around quickly, and I saw a couple I had known for a long while. I thought ‘Why are they here?’”

It took a moment for Walker to realize that the family from her church community were the same people she had aided over the phone. The mother, Aisha Webb, was just as shocked: “That is nothing short of a miracle. She was the one who answered the phone, out of all people. She’s a very sweet lady. I love her, and I’m thankful it was her.”2

Walker was delighted when they placed little Katherine in her arms. “I didn’t think much about how she got here,” she said. “I just thought, ‘I get to hold a baby! I love babies! I have 14 nieces and nephews. I’ll take her home with me. That’s fine.’”

Walker received a Stork Club Award pin from her communication center for providing phenomenal assistance through sweet Katherine’s delivery, and she’s so pleased to share in her happy arrival. Although, she admits she has no desire to relive the experience any time soon: “If people could just make it to the hospital or at least wait until paramedics arrive, that would be fantastic,” Walker said. “If not, we’ll be there.” 

1. Levkulich J. “Heaven-Sent Delivery.” WFTV Channel 9 Eyewitness News. 2023; June 23. facebook.com/SCFD.1974/videos/948064453079453 (accessed Aug. 22, 2023).
2. See note 1.