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Birth all in a day's labor for 911 worker

TAMPA — Sarah Elliott had a good Monday.

Just before 1 p.m., the Hillsborough County emergency medical dispatcher answered the call of a woman whose co-worker had gone into labor at work.

"I'm going to faint," the caller said, as Elliott began listing supplies they would need to help the woman deliver right there at the Aetna Building, 4630 Woodland Corporate Blvd.

Clean towels ... A shoelace ...

"It's okay, baby," the caller told the soon-to-be mother while Elliott listened in.

Everyone knows 911 dispatchers get tough calls. And in five years in the job, 26-year-old Elliott has had her share. Still, Monday was pretty tame: chest pains, difficulty breathing, broken bones, fallen children.

That changed with the baby call.

"What's the problem?" she asked. "Tell me exactly what happened."

"She's in labor."

"And how old is she?"

"Thirty-one."

"How many weeks or months is she?"

"She's due any time now."

"Is this her first baby?"

"No," the caller said. "It's not her first baby."

"And how many minutes apart are her contractions?"

"Maybe two at the most."

Within minutes, the woman's water broke. The baby began to crown. Co-workers held the baby's head and shoulders, at Elliott's prodding. Screams erupted as the baby emerged.

Elliott told them what to do next: Gently wipe the mouth and nose. Wrap the baby in a towel or blanket and place it in the mother's arms or on her belly. Tie the umbilical cord with the shoelace.

"It's a girl?" Elliott asked.

"It's a little girl!" the caller responded.

They did a good job, Elliott told them. Then paramedics arrived, and she hung up, without a chance to talk to the mother directly.

It was Elliott's second phone delivery of the year, a rarity among dispatchers.

"The day was amazing," she said later. "It's the kind of call that makes the last five years worth it."

Birth all in a day's labor for 911 worker 06/30/08 [Last modified: Saturday, July 5, 2008 10:20pm]
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