When Dispatcher Catharine Dobyns, Delaware County Emergency Communications, took a recent call with a woman screaming in the background she had no idea she was about earn her first Stork Award.
“All I could hear was a woman screaming bloody murder,” Dobyns said. “Then no response.”
Dobyns’ first thought was the call was an “active domestic.” She quickly learned it was an expectant father calling because his wife was about to deliver a baby girl.
“By the time dad called 911 the head was out,” Dobyns said. “Dad said he was scared at first because the baby came out blue. He got his golden glove award for sure.”
Dobyns just celebrated her second anniversary as a dispatcher with the county and this was her first time talking someone through a delivery.
Dobyns said the baby was in a big hurry to be born.
“It progressed very, very quickly,” she said. “I was trying to get through the menu.”
Patrick Brandt, director of 911, said dispatchers use a computer program for calls involving a need for medical assistance. The program is a checklist of questions dispatchers ask to determine the type of call and then quickly give instructions to help treat a patient until medical assistance arrives.
Brandt said dispatchers are required to take 40 hours of training for certification in the software.
The program is offered by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Dobyns said she was still on the phone when the Orange Township EMS walked through the door. By then the baby had been delivered.
“That little girl was in a heck of hurry to make her presence known,” she said. “Mom and dad both did a heck of job.”
“That is why the training is so critical because things move fast,” Dobyns said. “I’m proud about how efficient we are.”
After mom and baby were transported to the hospital, the medics gave Dobyns a call.
“The medics were real nice. They called in and said congratulations you did a great job. Mom is healthy, the baby is healthy, everything went good,” she said.
The Stork Award is given to dispatchers who assist in delivering a baby over the phone.
Dobyns was given a lapel pin of a stork and her name will be added to a plaque with the other recipients. The plaque is displayed on the first floor of the county commissioners’ office on Sandusky Street.
Brandt said two dispatchers earned Stork Awards in 2016, but over the years several children have been delivered with the assistance of a county dispatcher.
He wasn’t sure when the award was started, but said, “it goes back aways.”
Brandt said, “I got the idea for the plaque when I went to a conference in Denver.”
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.