CALM DURING THE STORM
September 10, 2012
By Audrey Fraizer
EMD Derrick Leonard had a lot on his line during the last hour of his 24-hour shift at the Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services in Centreville, Md.
The early morning caller was stressed, the person the caller was trying to help wasn’t cooperating to the extent the caller wanted, and a third party involved could have cared less about anyone else’s issue.
“I had a tough time trying to calm him [the caller] down,” said Leonard, who has been with the center going on six years. “He was frustrated and really needed extra reassurance.”
Leonard wasn’t exaggerating. Although the couple had been sent home from the hospital earlier that day for a case of Braxton Hicks, it took Leonard less than a second to realize that there was nothing false about the labor this time.
“I need you all to get out here real quick, as soon as you can,” the caller tells Leonard. “I don’t know what’s going on. Her water broke.”
The next almost 12 minutes shortly after 6 a.m. on Nov. 6, 2011, were a ride on the Wild Mouse roller coaster, at least for the caller and mom. She wails, pushes, and rolls on her side and on her back again. The caller alternately nearly loses his grip, asks mom questions she can’t answer, and attempts to calm her while Leonard repeats Pre-Arrival Instructions (PAIs) and reassures dad that he can do this.
“You’re doing good, you’re doing fine,” Leonard tells the caller four minutes into the call and still minutes away from the actual delivery. “There’s nothing you have to do right now but keep her calm.”
Six minutes and two seconds into the call and dad can hardly hear Leonard over the cries of pain and fear. “I’ve never been through anything like this before,” the caller tells Leonard. “It’s real crazy right now. She’s not listening to me.”
A minute later and the baby’s head crowns. “Oh my God,” the overwhelmed dad says. “It’s a head. Oh dude. Oh man. She is coming out.”
Leonard agrees the situation is overwhelming.
“It’s a little scary,” he said. “But I need you to pay attention. Sir, I need you to listen to me because I will tell you what to do.”
Two minutes and 30 seconds later, the baby is wrapped in a blanket and the caller has used a shoelace to tie off the umbilical cord.
“They were transported without further delay,” said Sarah Harrison, the center’s training officer and public information officer. “Derrick did a fabulous job.”
Leonard credits the protocol—Queen Anne’s uses all three—and the extensive and ongoing training required and ability to multitask for getting him through the first full delivery he’s handled over the phone. He was also relieved “big time” when he heard the baby let out a first cry.
“I knew the paramedics would be there soon but I didn’t know it (the delivery) would happen so fast,” he said. “I had the protocols and did the best that I could.”
Leonard was honored with the EMD Provider of the Year Award given to him by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems at the annual EMS award ceremony held in May 2012. But he certainly doesn’t revel in the glory.
“It was great to receive the award and bring a life into the world,” he said. “But the call shows only a small portion of what everyone here does every day.”