November 18, 2013
By Audrey Fraizer
It was a good thing Quality Assurance Coordinator Michel Courtois had the foresight to order a few extra stork pins rather than just the one to acknowledge the “great job” dispatcher Jacynthe Sarazin did helping a caller through a quick delivery.
“I ordered a bunch of them and contacted the local paper,” said Courtois, of the The Laurentian and Lanaudière Center of Health Communication (CCS), in Blainville, Quebec, Canada. “These calls don’t occur that often. Yes, we get calls for labor situations but most of the time the responders get there before the baby is out.”
That was before the call Sarazin answered on May 6; since then, three of the extra pins have flown out of storage and onto lapels during the same month.
“I have never seen anything like this,” Courtois said.
Sarazin had her hands full not only with the expectant mother and the friend making the call, but, also, with the father insisting that they hang up and that he drive his wife to the hospital. Sarazin, a dispatcher for not quite three years, was able to persuade him differently, although that didn’t make the call any easier.
“It was difficult for [Sarazin] to get the information,” Courtois said. “The caller became greatly distressed every time the patient had a contraction.”
Six minutes after the call came in, the baby’s head was crowning and visible to the caller. Six minutes after that, mom was handed her newborn at just about the same time an ambulance pulled up to the home.
On May 18, Jessy Demers-Huot, a dispatcher for five years, merited the second pin on a call that Courtois rates an 11 on a scale of 10, with one being the easiest and 10 the hardest.
“The patient was yelling and swearing at each contraction, and the caller was distracted and disturbed by what was happening around her,” Courtois said. “This made it very difficult for [Demers-Huot] to concentrate.”
Within eight minutes from when Demers-Huot answered the call, the baby was out and ready to meet responders arriving nearly 13 minutes later.
Cathie Savignac, a dispatcher for 11 years, had much less time to make good on earning the third pin. The call she answered at 7:35 a.m. on May 24 was from a panicked mom who had undoubtedly hoped the baby would wait until her husband was home from taking their other children to a friend’s house.
No such luck. Mom was going solo on this one.
“The baby arrived seven minutes from the start of the call, and responders got there a few minutes after,” Courtois said. “It took a couple more minutes before dad was back.”
With little time to spare, Jessyca Latour made it four deliveries before the end of May. A relative newcomer to the center, Latour received the most ominous call with the caller reporting the baby’s arrival while the mother was in a filled bathtub.
“She was not able to get out, and the water was not draining fast enough,” Courtois said. “The baby came out but was not breathing.”
Latour provided Pre-Arrival Instructions and in a matter of seconds, she heard the baby crying and her work was done.
“The caller started showing the baby to the family’s other children, forgetting she was still on the line,” Courtois said. “Everyone was doing OK when the responders arrived on scene soon after.”
Courtois was understandably surprised by the month’s events.
“I was really not expecting what May was going to bring,” he said.
The Laurentian and Lanaudière Center of Health Communication (CCS) is the most recent addition to the 10 centers operated by the Corporation of Partners for Health Communications in Quebec. The 950-square-meter facility was completed in 2011 and fully operational in early 2012.
The CCS is a non-profit organization created to receive, prioritize, manage, and dispatch 9-1-1 calls. Each center in the organization uses the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS) and its dispatchers/calltakers are certified EMDs.