What’s That Sound?
June 25, 2019
The sound of a vehicle in the background came through over the line.
Could it be a traffic accident? A suspicious person report?
At first impression, Brandi Leary based what she heard on experience as a night shift emergency medical dispatcher. That changed in less than a New York minute and, in Leary’s case, the time between when she picked up and when she heard a woman’s voice in distress.
“She said the baby’s coming out,” said Leary, EMD and Shift Supervisor, Currituck County Communications, Currituck, North Carolina (USA).
The couple was not going to make it to the hospital, as they had hoped, and the birth was apparently too far along to extend the drive by a very short distance to the nearest fire station. Leary gave dad the PAIs for childbirth and delivery, and their baby—a boy—was born in the front seat at 4:35 a.m. on Jan. 25, 2019.
While Leary was busy providing instructions, EMD Taylor Rolling dispatched an ambulance from Currituck EMS. The crew was at the car within minutes. Dad was about to remove his shoelace to tie off the umbilical cord but not before the sound Leary was anxiously awaiting came through the line.
“I heard the baby cry,” Leary said. “We’ve had calls when the baby’s almost there, but the ambulance arrives before the birth actually happens.”
The baby’s cry was welcome relief. Leary credits the smooth delivery to PAIs in the medical ProQA® and the “amazing” people inside the car.
“They were calm,” she said. “They followed instructions. They were the perfect 911 callers.”
The next voice Leary heard wasn’t at all what she expected.
“Dad had handed mom the phone, and we talked,” she said. “She was calm and told the dad where he could find the blanket for the baby inside the car. I was so happy that everything was going the way it’s supposed to in that moment.”
The moment was particularly eventful for another reason.
Leary’s over-the-phone delivery was the first ever at Currituck County 911. Leary was aware of being “the first” and although the call and outcome were exciting, she didn’t “pay it any mind” until Liz Hodgis, Communications Supervisor, approached her and Rolling to congratulate them.
It was a big deal, Hodgis told them. They had received a call that brought a baby into the world and were remarkably successful at it.
For Leary, it was part of their job in doing the best they can for callers. Standards are high at Currituck County 911 and, aside from that, what could be more satisfying than knowing “you are making a difference in someone’s life”?
Leary has been in a position to help for nearly 19 years (as of September 2019). She worked a total of 14 years in law enforcement at Elizabeth City State University, Elizabeth City, North Carolina (USA), while studying criminal justice and transitioned to full time once she graduated.
In 2014 she went to Currituck County Communications. She said the training is extensive and includes practicing on a specific protocol each month. Before the call in January, there hadn’t been a complete baby delivery, but they sure were prepared for it when it did happen.
“This was our dream call,” Leary said. “Taylor was a huge part of this. We were so ready. We did exactly what we train to do.”
Currituck County Communications provides dispatch services for Currituck Sheriff’s Office, Currituck County Fire and EMS, six volunteer fire departments, North Carolina Forestry, Animal Services and Control, and the public ocean beaches along Currituck County. There are about 500 year-round residents who live along the 20 miles of oceanfront shoreline in Currituck County; in the summer, this number swells to at least 50,000 weekly visitors.
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