Babies are born at hospitals all the time. Most parents plan on it. But what happens if they can't get to the hospital in time for the baby's arrival? So far, there have been three babies born this year in Prince William County who couldn't wait until they got to a hospital and were born with the help of a 9-1-1 call taker.
While it isn't a complete rarity, it's still notable in the 9-1-1 Communications Center when a call taker gets to help a family with the birthing process. "If the baby is born while you're on the phone, you become a member of the Stork Club," said Sandra Roush, the training and development supervisor at the 9-1-1 Communications Center. "A lot of people get the call, but we rarely actually deliver the baby. Either fire and rescue gets there, or they get to the hospital."
When one of those quick, telephone-assisted births happens, the call taker who helped the family gets inducted into the unofficial Stork Club. They get a certificate to go along with a little stork pin, with a blue or pink bundle in its beak, to wear on their identification card lanyards, said Roush.
Stephanie Sutts, a two-time Stork Club member who helped deliver her first baby last year and then a baby this August, said it's thrilling. "Not everybody gets baby calls. Someone can go 30 years without getting a baby call, so you get excited about it."
Amy Stancer, who helped deliver a baby this May, said that "high-priority" calls get everyone's attention and everyone in the room stands by to help when one comes in. "Whenever you get any kind call like that, everyone helps you or is interested in it."
Baby calls generate, perhaps the most interest and reaction, as any other call that comes into the center, Stancer said. "We get a little misty-eyed when we hear the baby cry. Everybody wants to hear the baby crying. As soon as you hear that it's like 'OK, everything's good.'"
One of the things that further complicate a phone-assisted delivery is people not knowing their location. Sutts and Stancer said people who are on the way to the hospital with a baby that isn't waiting should take note of their surroundings, even in the rush of things.
"Always know where you are," Sutts said. "We can send someone as long as we know where you are."