Audrey Fraizer

Audrey Fraizer

Story Vault

By Audrey Fraizer

Wearing of the lapel stork pin commemorates an upbeat sequence of events for EMD Lorraine Welsh.

The dispatcher was party to the birth of a healthy baby girl, and the 100 percent compliant call was the first to be so honored through the new awards program at the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS), Health and Social Care Trust, control room in Belfast.

The recognition Welsh received one week after the call was occasioned by International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) Accreditation Officer Beverley Logan’s well-timed visit.

Everything about the event, from the call received on the morning of Jan. 20 to the presentation on Jan. 28, was “absolutely brilliant,” said NIAS Control Training and QA Officer Heather Lyons.

They couldn’t have scripted it any better.

“It was a great call to listen to,” Logan said. “And one that I was honored to be a part of when the badge/certificate was presented.”

For starters, the baby’s father arrived home after working the night shift to find his wife in active labor, with contractions barely two minutes apart by the time he made the call to 9-9-9. The hospital is a 25-minute drive from their home.

The birth took off rapidly from there, Welsh said.

“I thought we would have a little more time,” she said. “Instead, I had to move very quickly through the different Pre-Arrival Instruction (PAI) links.”

Within seconds, dad had the baby girl in his hands, but that didn’t make the situation any easier. The cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck, and the baby did not appear to be breathing. Welsh quickly relayed instructions on how to remove the cord and check the baby’s breathing.

“He told me she was breathing,” said Welsh, a dispatcher at NIAS for 20 years. “It was really a good feeling to know all was going well for everyone.”

This is the third baby that Welsh has aided in the delivery. They’ve all been girls, and she stays in contact with one of the families that stopped by for introductions.

The opportunity to help is the major factor in Welsh’s job satisfaction. The honor of receiving the first stork pin in a rewards program Lyons initiated on Dec. 1, 2014, was the icing on the cake.

“It was nice to be the first [to receive the recognition],” she said. “You can really get emotional about these things.”

Logan was impressed upon hearing the recorded call.

“Despite the rapid progression, Lorraine remained on track, moving to a more appropriate part of the protocol with each element of new and updated information she received,” she said. “She really was professional throughout the call and most certainly contributed to the calmness of the caller.”

Lyons said the awards program is a way of showing, “look, you’re doing a great job here.”

“EMDs get hammered all the time, so it’s good to put something positive in place,” she said.

The stork pins come in two colors—pink for girls and blue for boys—and are among the 10 pins Lyons designed. Three pins recognize consistently high protocol compliance; another three acknowledge exemplary customer service; and there are two pins for separate lifesaving events (one involving CPR and the other involving a save that did not require CPR, such as instructions that save a choking patient).

Belfast’s NIAS has a fleet of over 300 ambulances covering 14,100 square kilometers (5,600 square miles) in Northern Ireland and serving a population of 1.7 million. The NIAS control room receives around 150,000 emergency 9-9-9 calls and 40,000 general practitioner (GP)/hospital urgent calls per year. There are 46 EMDs with nine to 10 EMDs on duty at any given time. NIAS also has 10 EMDs on GP/hospital urgent call duties using Protocol 35: Healthcare Professional Admission, a health care facility protocol specific to the U.K.