For 911 dispatchers all over the United States, there is a profound sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in having helped someone in need get the assistance they require. For Luisa Howell, a dispatcher in Austin, Texas, her sense of accomplishment was particularly special after a recent call from a pregnant woman who was about to give birth. According to Howell, when calls are received by dispatchers that the CTECC building in East Austin, their job is to fall back on their training in order to make a fast but thorough assessment of the caller and the situation based not only on what the caller is saying but also on what they hear in the background and other nonverbal cues.
Howell says that every call ideally starts the same by the dispatcher asking for the address of the emergency in question. But on a recent Sunday morning, one caller did not have an address to give because she was driving her car with her friend in the back seat about to give birth. In fact, the woman’s water had already long since broken and she was giving birth when the call came in to Howell. According to Howell, the caller was somewhat panicked but calmed down enough to pull the car to the side of the road per Howell’s instructions.
Howell says she then told the caller to get in the back seat, put the phone on speaker, and proceeded to give her detailed instructions to deliver the baby which she was able to do successfully. Paramedics arrived just moments after the delivery and took the woman to a local hospital. So why was this call so special for Howell? It just so happens that she is 4 months pregnant herself, which she says made the call and the successful delivery “that much sweeter”.