Charlene Kissock

Story Vault

By Charlene Kissock

It is 4:50 in the morning on Aug. 15, 2010. I am settling in for the last few hours of night shift thinking of going home to bed when the phone rings. I put on my dispatch hat and pick up the phone, “Fire and Ambulance. What is the address of your emergency?” From the other end of the line, I hear the words that I have dreaded hearing ever since I started in emergency dispatch 2 1/2 years ago: “My baby stopped breathing and is turning blue!” The adrenaline starts coursing through my veins as I ring the bell, waking up the fire medics on duty.

I will my fingers to work as I flip the cardset to the “A” card—Infant CPR. This is only the second time I have ever had to give CPR instructions to a caller during the year since my department adopted EMD protocol. This is my first infant CPR situation. The mother is hysterical but my training kicks in and I am able to calm her down to the point she can follow instructions.

I begin by telling the mother to check airway and breathing status. The baby is not breathing. I give mouth-to-mouth instructions followed by CPR landmarks and compressions. The mother counts out loud with me to make sure she is pumping the chest adequately.

The mother experiences a “refreak event” when she doesn’t see immediate results from the CPR but I provide extra reassurance to help calm down us both.

I have never had a five minute call last as long as this one did but thankfully by the time paramedics arrive the baby has started breathing. Hearing those words from the paramedics mean more to me than anything I have ever experienced in my life. I just helped save a six-day-old baby’s life.

It was the most horrific call I have ever taken and, although these types of calls are rare, I am glad that my department instituted the proper training for dispatchers. I think back to the days without protocol and I can’t help but think about what could have happened in this call. It was truly my unforgetable call but thankfully it had a happy ending.