Emergency dispatcher talks family through baby delivery
It was a relatively quiet night for the emergency dispatchers when the call came in last week.
Conner Herlihy, 20, of La Plata, a dispatcher with the Charles County Department of Emergency Services, had been on the job just shy of a year — but by all accounts, his calmness and training helped successfully instruct a woman who was delivering her daughter’s baby on the bathroom floor of their Waldorf home.
It had been a quiet night for the family as well, the newborn’s grandmother Brenda Anderson recalled. “We were just doing laundry, getting our things together for work the next
day, me and my husband,” she said, “and the kids were just playing video games and stuff like that. Everyone was sitting around doing nothing.”
“Miranda [Holley, 20,] had been saying her stomach hurt for two days, but it wasn’t like bad because we had been gone, walking around all day, in and out the house all day,” Anderson said. “It wasn’t until later on she went to the bathroom and she started screaming. She didn’t even know when her water broke.”
“It just came all the sudden,” Anderson said. “She said she thought the baby was coming, and I looked down and saw something coming out.”
At 10:30 p.m. on July 12, Herlihy got the call.
“The caller was the grandmother of the newborn … she said, ‘My daughter’s having a baby,’” Herlihy said. “I started going through the standard questions and then I was advised that they could see the head of the baby coming out.”
On the other line was Anderson, who passed the phone off to her neighbor so she could relay Herlihy’s instructions as she worked to deliver the baby. Holley and several kids were heard yelling in the background.
At this point, Herlihy’s instructions shifted and he began explaining how to deliver the baby. “I figured then, the baby was coming out and it was probably going to be delivered before any emergency services arrived there,” he said. “Once we finally got rolling with all the instructions and everything, things started to calm down a little bit, but it still kind of a hectic situation on the other side of the phone.”
“They started following the instructions pretty good, the family was very supportive and you could hear all of them around them,” he continued.
Just as suddenly as it began, 6 pound, 15 ounce baby girl Shantell Victoria Holley entered the world. It was 10:33 p.m. To the young dispatcher’s relief, they told Herlihy that everyone was OK.
“All the sudden I hear in the background, ‘Grandmother’s not doing OK, though,’ just kind of joking and laughing and everything,” he said. “It was a pretty cool moment.”
EMS personnel arrived just a few minutes later.
“This is the very first time I’ve ever had to delivery a baby over the phone,” Herlihy said. “Definitely an eye-opener. I felt relieved and kind of filled with a sense of pride, just because, you know, good training and everything got me to the point where I could do this effectively and to where it was done in the best manner possible; everything went smooth. There were no complications for the child, or the mother.”