911 operator helps Sellwood couple deliver baby
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 Station 20's Captain Caleb Currie, who arrived at the location just as the child entered this world.
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.
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 was kind of squeamish, honestly," Andersen commented. "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."
Born to the couple was a 6 pound, 2 ounce baby girl.
"This is a very big moment our family's life, a very stressful moment," admitted Loso. "I just had 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!"
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.
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."
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 paused 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 'Stork Club'."