By Kyle Barr
A new resident arrived in Stony Brook with a little help from a fire and rescue dispatcher.
A couple were surprised May 30 when the wife went into labor while still over the phone with emergency dispatch, but the man behind the phone helped the family complete the birth with little to no complications.
“You could hear her going through contractions. She definitely sounded like she was in discomfort.”
— Gerard Boucher
Suffolk County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services dispatcher Gerard Boucher heard about other dispatchers in the office having to help deliver a baby over the phone, but he had never had to do it himself. Just an hour into his shift at 7:54 a.m. May 30, Boucher found he didn’t have a choice but to keep calm and go through the steps he learned both with his experience as a volunteer firefighter, emergency medical technician and his 10 years working for dispatch.
“I went through the usual spiel, the name, information, call-back number and the nature of the call, but then he stated his wife was 39 weeks pregnant and her water had broken,” said Boucher, a Bayshore resident. “I’ve had some close deliveries, but I’ve never actually delivered over the phone.”
In addition to his experience, Boucher relied on the dispatchers’ computer-aided Q&A program to understand what was happening and what to do.
“It involved prepping the mother, getting her the necessary tools — a dry blanket to wrap the baby in, a shoelace or a piece of string to tie off and cut the umbilical cord,” Boucher said. “We’re also instructed to have them get a safety pin if the amniotic sack is still intact. Another part of it is properly positioning the mother and talking her through the contractions. Just trying to have the person on the other end of the phone tell me what’s happening, asking him is she crowning, is she out, partially out, and most importantly if the babies coming out head first.”
The birth procedure went smoothly, and Boucher said that everyone involved kept level heads.
“You go from having one patient to two patients very quickly. Just to have the baby cry immediately was a big sigh of relief.”
— Gerard Boucher
“You could hear her going through contractions,” he said. “She definitely sounded like she was in discomfort. I do have to commend the two of them. I was surprised how calm they were throughout the entire experience. I was shocked at that, but it definitely lowered the stress level on our end.”
Finally, at 8:07 a.m., a little baby girl was born. She was breathing, and seconds after that, Boucher heard the baby start to cry.
“I was relieved, he said. “You go from having one patient to two patients very quickly. Just to have the baby cry immediately was a big sigh of relief.”
Setauket Fire Department emergency services arrived shortly afterwards and brought the family to Stony Brook Hospital, according to a press release.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) commended Boucher in a statement.
“The highly trained professionals that make up our Department of Fire Rescue and Emergency Services are exceptional public servants and dispatcher Boucher is a perfect example of that,” Bellone (D) said. “These everyday heroes continuously face some of the most stressful and difficult situations imaginable, and I applaud them for their continued work and service to the residents of Suffolk County.”
The Stony Brook couple declined to be interview and did not wish for their names to be disclosed, according to a representative of the county emergency services department.