The NWT introduced 9-1-1 service just in time for one of the territory’s new dispatchers to help deliver a baby by phone.
On Wednesday, 9-1-1 managers announced dispatcher Christopher Moore had joined the “Stork Club” – the select group of dispatchers, worldwide, who have handled such calls.
Ashley Geraghty, who manages the NWT’s 9-1-1 program, said Moore received a “distraught call for help” from someone trying to assist a woman in labour. The baby, however, arrived while Moore was still taking down the address in the call’s opening moments.
As first responders made their way out to help, Moore talked the caller through simple life support instructions: how to help the mom, clean off the baby, check the baby was awake and breathing, and how to tie off the umbilical cord.
“As a new emergency dispatcher, I feel a great sense of pride of having helped someone in a stressful moment of their life where the end result was a healthy baby being born into the world,” said Moore by email.
“This experience has been quite rewarding as I truly felt like I made a difference.
“Being born and having lived all my life in the North, I feel truly grateful to be able to give back to the people of the NWT.”
Manager Geraghty said the location of the call and identity of the family were being withheld to ensure privacy.
Geraghty added that while dispatchers often receive calls regarding people in labour, “rarely do they get to assist with an actual delivery” as first responders usually have time to arrive and take over.
9-1-1 has only been an option in the Northwest Territories since November last year, after two years of work to introduce the service. Previously, residents had to call their RCMP detachment or fire service direct – which remains an option.
Geraghty told Cabin Radio: “We’re so excited. We’re all living on a bit of a high.
“Most of our calls are when someone is having a really bad day or calling us for help. In this case, to have such an amazing outcome is incredible.
“I cried when I heard about it. This is why we’re providing this service.”
Meanwhile, Geraghty urged NWT callers to be prepared to give their full address when they call 9-1-1, as the information is not automatically provided to dispatchers.
In particular, he said dispatchers are powerless to help if callers hang up before providing their location.
“Unlike down south, we don’t get any of the addressing information – we are basic 9-1-1 for our infrastructure. We don’t get your address, you have to provide that to us,” he said.
“We really want to help you, but you have to stay on the line and tell us where you are.”