Audrey Fraizer

Audrey Fraizer

Story Vault

By Audrey Fraizer

Jeff Poff was on day 18 of training with Waukesha County (Wis.) Communications when he answered the call everybody wants—as long as it goes well.

“My wife is in labor,” Mukwonago resident Bobby Larson said.

“Great,” Poff thought. “I’ll get an ambulance over there. No problem.”

The reason for the call just after 9:30 a.m. on March 16 had no intention of waiting. In the seconds it took Poff to transfer the call to Mukwonago EMS dispatch, dad said his hands were touching the baby’s head. Poff’s trainer Holly Dischler, who was also on the call, sat back, poised to jump in if necessary.

“I started to sweat,” Poff said. “And once the baby was out, dad tells me, ‘Oh my God. He’s not breathing. Tell me what to do.’”

Referring to Pre-Arrival Instructions, Poff told Larson to turn the baby over and briskly rub his back to stimulate breathing. After the 45 longest seconds in Poff’s life, he heard the baby cough and then cry out loud. Dad passed baby Nolan over to his mother, Shawna Larson, to complete his next assignment.

“He pulled out his shoestring to tie off the umbilical cord,” Poff said.

The standing ovation Poff received once the call ended almost made him shed a tear, something rare for the 6’6” former football player.

“It was nuts, and at the same time awesome to be able to do this,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better start to a career.”

That wasn’t the last Poff heard of the Larson family. Three weeks later, on April 4, the new parents made a special trip to the center to introduce baby Nolan and his brothers Jackson, Bryce, and Lucas. Poff was presented a stork pin, Nolan a Waukesha 9-1-1 cotton baby bodysuit (aka a onesie), and dad a pair of shoelaces to replace the one he used after Nolan was born.

Poff said holding Nolan was “surreal,” and the same goes for the phone call that went from zero to 60 in an instant. He acknowledges a team effort for the outcome: staff (we learn from each other), dad (he was the real hero in all of this), classroom training (everything EMD Instructor Fred Hurtado taught me was still fresh in my mind), and his trainer (she was plugged in behind me and watched me work).

And for his next big splash in EMD?

“I want to finish training,” Poff said. “This really showed me why we do this.”

Waukesha County Communications Training and Operations Manager Sherri Stigler was almost as elated as Poff and the Larsons.

“This happy day would not be possible without our amazing employees and the training and access they have to the Emergency Medical Dispatch Protocol,” she said. “In this case, it truly didn’t matter that Jeff was a new dispatcher. He followed his protocol, relied on his training, and he was able to make a difference.”

WCC is a 9-1-1 public safety answering point (PSAP) and dispatch center for 29 communities within Waukesha County. The center is staffed with 40 telecommunicators divided into three functions: calltakers, police dispatchers, and fire dispatchers.