When dispatchers answer a 911 call from someone in labor, they usually have plenty of time to get an ambulance to the residence and get the woman to the hospital by the time of delivery.
That wasn’t the case when dispatcher Russ Jobman took a call shortly before 8 a.m. Thursday from a man saying his wife was in labor.
“Typically, if they’re in labor like that, we’ve got some time and can find out how far along is she and how far apart contractions are,” Jobman said. “My partner picked up that the way she was screaming, there weren’t any breaks in the contractions… I asked ‘can you see the head?’ and he said 'yes,' and it was crowning.”
The caller said the mother woke up screaming and realized she was in labor.
Jobman had to think quickly and forego the usual steps that dispatchers would usually walk expectant parents through. Instead, he talked the father through the delivery over the phone.
“There was no time to get towels or in the proper position or anything like that,” Jobman said. “Basically, less than four minutes from time they called, they were holding a bouncing baby boy.
“It wasn’t, 'find a towel or blanket.' It was, 'wrap it in whatever you’ve got there.' There was no time whatsoever to prepare.”
Coaching someone through labor is hard enough in person, but Jobman was forced to do it over the phone while rescue crews raced to the west Beatrice residence.
Jobman told the man to stay on the phone with him until the ambulance arrived.
He warned the man the baby would be slick, so he had to take extra care not to drop it. Jobman also had the man check if the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby.
It’s going to be messy, Jobman told the man, just stay with me on the phone.
“He was rather excited and you just try to keep on top of it, making him pay attention to the job he had ahead of him,” Jobman said. “Is he breathing? Is he crying? And don’t mess with the umbilical cord. The ambulance was less than a minute away, so we’re going to wait for medical professionals to get there.”
One of the last questions Jobman asked was if it was a boy or a girl.
A boy, the man said.
Jobman offered his congratulations to the parents and hung up the phone. He said that, from what he’d heard, the newborn was doing well at the Beatrice Community Hospital and that the original due date wasn’t for nearly three weeks.
Jobman has been a dispatcher for 14 years. In that time, he’s never had a call like the one he took Thursday morning, a call he’s not soon going to forget.
“You see a lot and handle a lot over the years," he said, "but to feel like you had a small part in bringing life into this world is kind of special."