2017-08-11 / Community News

All in a night’s work: Special delivery by phone

Dispatcher Mike Mains guides Buxton resident through childbirth
By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Scarborough dispatcher Mike Mains was honored earlier this month for a call he took last month in which he coached a woman through a successful childbirth, earning him a place in the International Academies of Emergency Dispatcher’s Stork Club. (Courtesy photo) Scarborough dispatcher Mike Mains was honored earlier this month for a call he took last month in which he coached a woman through a successful childbirth, earning him a place in the International Academies of Emergency Dispatcher’s Stork Club. (Courtesy photo) As a Scarborough Public Safety Dispatcher, Mike Mains is used to receiving calls from residents about emergencies happening around town, but one he received July 5, will stick out in his mind for some time.

It started as a normal 12-hour shift but at 7 a.m. a woman from Buxton called – per an arrangement between the two communities Scarborough handles 911 calls for Buxton – saying that her daughter-in-law was in labor and wasn’t going to be able to make it to the hospital before having the baby.

Mains said he received the call with an hour to go in his shift.

“It was the mother of the husband that called – the baby’s grandmother. She stated her daughter-in-law was having her third child and she was full term” Mains said during an overtime shift last week, adding it was clear that the mother, who lived out of state but was in Buxton staying with family and had gone into labor at 2 a.m., was not going to be able to get to be able to get to the hospital in time.

Mains said he stayed on the line with the woman and her family for 15 to 20 minutes asking her a series of questions and guiding her through the labor, which occurred six or seven minutes into the call.

With Mains’ guidance, the woman was able to have a successful delivery.

“The baby came out and I could hear it crying in the background. The grandmother was happy because it was a boy,” said Mains, who earlier that morning, just after 2:30 a.m., fielded a call about a fire that occurred at a Lillian Way home after improperly disposed fireworks ignited a fire.

Mains hung up with the mother after the Buxton ambulance arrived on the scene.

Scarborough Public Safety Lead Dispatcher Joe Thornton said pregnancy is one of the 36 call types that dispatchers are trained to handle. Thornton said as a call progresses, no matter the type of emergency, the dispatcher goes through a series of scripted questions to triage the situation until an emergency responder can get to the scene.

Thornton said aside from getting certified by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatchers, all 911 operators must have their certificates renewed by the state every two years, “just like a paramedic or emergency responder.” There are also continuing education and training classes, he said, as part of the recertification process.

Mains and Thornton said it is not uncommon for dispatchers to receive a call from a pregnant mother, but it is uncommon for the birth to happen before responders arrive.

“With the quick response of emergency responders these days, to get all the way through child birth … is rare,” Thornton said Aug. 2, the day after Mains’ colleagues surprised him with a celebration of the event in which the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch gave Mains a orange stork club coffee mug with an image of a stork and a blue stork pin that Scarborough Police Chief Robbie Moulton has allowed Mains to wear on his work uniform.

It was the first time that Thornton or Mains, a Scarborough dispatcher for the last nine years, recall it happening.

“Between Old Orchard Beach and Scarborough, I’ve been doing this 15 years and this is the first one in the center I’ve worked in. I know there have been others in Maine, but I am not sure how many,” Thornton said.

According Brodie Hinckley, the Maine Chapter of the National Emergency Numbers Association, which oversees 911 policy, technology, operations and education in the state, awarded four stork awards in 2015 and nine so far this year.

“We have an annual 9-1-1 conference in Maine every year and we do have a “stork award” that we issue to Emergency Telecommunicators every year,” Hinckley, communications director for the Sagadahoc County Regional Communications Center and president of the Maine Chapter of National Emergency Numbers Association, wrote in an email to the Leader. “The difficult part is that it must be submitted by the agency they work for, so I know that we are not receiving all of them.”

While this is the first time he has coached a mother through a birth over the phone, it is not the first time Mains has aided a mother in labor. In 2003 Mains, a part-time emergency responder in Buxton helped transport a mother and child via ambulance to the hospital moments after the woman gave birth to the baby at her home.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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