911 operator helps couple deliver baby

Find out how a 9-1-1 Center dispatcher, working from Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood, helped deliver a baby in Sellwood, over the phone. You can listen on this amazing call …

Portland Bureau of Emergency Communication Public Information Officer Todd DeWeese welcomes guests to the gathering where a 9-1-1 Center operator meets the family of the baby she helped deliver.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

It was a happy reunion, of sorts, on the morning of October 3. Portland Bureau of Emergency Communication (BOEC) 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Senior Dispatcher Caitlynn Brown met face-to-face with the parents of the baby she remotely helped deliver to a Sellwood family in late August.

Also at the gathering were representatives from Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R), including Westmoreland Station 20’s Captain Caleb Currie, who arrived at the location just as the child entered this world.

Having never done it before, BOEC Senior Dispatcher Caitlynn Brown says she wasn’t looking forward to taking an “emergent pregnancy” call.

Brown described how, near the end of her overnight shift, she wasn’t feeling well, and was on a “Call Taker” station, when her earpiece signaled her to pick up the line at 7:33 a.m. on August 29.

Of the 8,000+ calls taken each year, only a couple a couple of them are for emergent pregnancies, and Brown acknowledged that in her two years with the Bureau, she’d not handled any of these emergencies.

“My training kicked in, I went into ‘baby delivery mode’, and because of our preparation, the outcome was successful,” Brown smiled.

Delivering her baby in the bathroom of her Sellwood home is not what mother Sara Andersen said she had been anticipating.

The mother, Sara Andersen, said she had reservations at a birthing center, but the birth unfolded quickly. “It wasn’t my choice, but we could see it was going to happen in our home’s bathroom.”

Her husband, Andy Loso, called the 9-1-1 Center, and was connected to Senior Dispatcher Brown.

“Andy’s not a ‘medical person’, and is kind of squeamish, honestly,” Andersen revealed. “It ended up, he played the biggest role, and I’m really proud that he was able to do that. He did really well, and didn’t faint. And listening to the call again, and hearing how calm he sounded, I’m quite amazed.”

>>Listen to an audio recording of this fascinating call!

 

Born to the couple was a 6 lbs. 2 oz. baby girl.

Proud new dad Andy Loso commends Dispatcher Brown for calmly and professionally guiding him through the process of delivering the baby.

“This is a very big moment our family’s life, a very stressful moment,” admitted Loso. “I just to make sure that I did the right thing, and calling 9-1-1 was it.

“I put my trust and faith in the operator’s instructions, and went with it – and, in doing that, I think I did okay; obviously it turned out well,” Loso said.

Turning to Brown, he added, “I’m totally impressed by your expertise and poise during the call; by the way you helped us, I’d have guessed you’d have helped deliver a hundred babies.”

Brown responded, “We’re normally working with people on the ‘worst days of their lives’, and it’s wonderful to have helped out on what turned out to be your family’s ‘best day of your life’, and seeing your healthy baby here today.”

During most of the reunion, baby Celia Anderson slept in her mother’s arms, but nevertheless, her radiant little face remained the focus of attention.

He’s glad to have played a small role, arriving from the Westmoreland Fire Station as the baby was born, says PF&R’s Captain Caleb Currie.

When it was time for PF&R’s Captain Caleb Currie to take questions, he smiled and said, “We arrived after the delivery; they did all the work!”

Compared to many of the tragic incidents to which firefighters are called, Currie said, “This one was way better! To play a very small part in that, and to be part of this system, gives energy to our crews – making this one of the events that makes our job feel really worthwhile.”

New big sister Keira Andersen says she’s happy there is a new baby in the family.

Celia’s big sister, Keira Andersen, told the gathering that she didn’t care if her new sibling would be a boy or a girl. “Right now, she’s very tiring for all of us, but I’m very glad that she’s here, and I think my baby sister is very [she pauses to think of exactly the right word] cute!”

At the end, Brown commented, “It’s a great experience, something I’ll remember forever, and it’ll be one of the highlights of my career here at BOEC. I’ve become a member of the ‘Stark Club’.”

Together, Sellwood’s Sara Andersen, sister Keira Andersen, and dad Andy Loso admire baby Celia, along with BOEC Senior Dispatcher Caitlynn Brown, who came to the rescue on the phone at a critical moment.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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