Emergency dispatcher helps deliver baby born to couple parked by side of road

Nine-year agency veteran Jessica Kubishin talked couple through process

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • The incident took place on the night of Friday, Dec. 16 on County Road 311 near the old Aztec Post Office.
  • The couple was driving to the hospital when the mother's water broke, and she went into labor.
  • The woman delivered a baby boy less than five minutes after calling 911.

FARMINGTON — The San Juan County Communications Authority staff members who respond to emergency calls from residents are used to dealing with stressful situations, operations manager Crystal Arellano says.

After all, that’s the nature of the job, she said. And most of the time, those calls are related to some sort of negative incident — a fire, a crime, a violent encounter or a medical emergency, among other examples.

“We don’t get to hear good calls very often,” Arellano said.

When one of Arellano’s dispatchers took a call on Friday, Dec. 16, the stakes certainly were very high. But the incident turned out to have a rare happy ending only a short time later.

Arellano said Jessica Kubishin, an assistant supervisor at the authority, received a 911 call at 6:49 p.m. that day. A pregnant woman who had begun experiencing contractions was being driven to the San Juan Regional Medical Center by her partner when they pulled over by the side of County Road 3100 near the old Aztec Post Office.

“My water just broke, and I’m going into labor,” the mother said, according to a nearly 11-minute recording of the incident made available to The Daily Times.

The woman was remarkably calm, but there was a clear sense of urgency in her voice. Kubishin immediately dispatched an ambulance, fire department personnel and medics to the scene, advising the couple that help was on the way.

That’s when the emergency training Kubishin and the other dispatchers at the authority receive on a regular basis paid off. She contacted the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch, a system established in 1988 to provide live, real-time medical assistance to dispatchers.

Assistant supervisor Jessica Kubishin of the San Juan County Communications Authority talked a local couple through the process of delivering their baby by the side of the road after the mother's water broke on their way to the hospital last week.

IAED offers a computer interface featuring protocols designed to address life-threatening situations, allowing the dispatchers to provide sound medical instructions to people in dire situations. Kubishin told the woman to put her partner on the phone so she could concentrate on her breathing, then asked the man several questions designed to determine the couple’s precise location and circumstances.

After finding out the mother’s age and how many weeks she had been pregnant, Kubishin told the man to remove the woman’s pants and asked if he could see any part of the baby emerging from her body.

At that point, a little over three minutes into the call, the mother’s tone changed dramatically.

“Oh, God, it’s coming! Oh, God, it’s coming!” she said quickly, her voice rising in alarm. “I feel it coming!”

Kubishin responded by reminding the mother to breathe deeply and began to ask another question when she was cut off by the woman’s partner.

“I think I can see hair!” he exclaimed.

Calmly, Kubishin reminded the couple to stay on the line.

“I’ll tell you exactly what to do,” she said.

“Tell them to hurry!” the father barked. “ … He’s coming out!”

Kubishin advised the father to place the palm of his hand on the mother, applying firm but gentle pressure to keep the baby’s head from being delivered too quickly. She also advised him to remember to support the baby’s head and legs when it emerged from her body, and to keep a careful grip on the child, as it would be slippery.

No sooner were the words out of Kubishin’s mouth than the mother’s voice can be heard again

“He’s out, all the way,” she said, only five minutes and 10 seconds into the call.

While the sound of the crying baby could be heard in the background, Kubishin remained focused, advising the parents to gently wipe the baby’s nose and mouth, and to keep him level with his mother.

The woman’s partner responded impatiently, the tension rising in his voice.

“Y’all need to … hurry!” he shouted.

Kubishin maintained her composure, responding to the man’s anxiety with a soothing voice.

“You’re doing a great job,” she said. “Not many people get to say they did this.”

After the couple wrapped the baby in a jacket they had brought with them, Kubishin advised them to turn the child on its side and make sure the umbilical cord was not wrapped around its neck. The mother, her voice now relaxed, remarked that she was feeling better, then asked Kubishin, a nine-year veteran of the agency, if she handled calls of this nature often.

“Not very often, no,” she said, leading the mother to laugh.

Moments later, an ambulance with first responders arrived at the scene, and the woman offered the dispatcher a thank you for her help. Kubishin responded with her congratulations and signed off, ending their brief but impactful exchange.

Arellano said it was only the third time in her 16 years on the job that a dispatcher has had to help a caller deliver a baby. She said she spoke to Kubishin after the incident, and the dispatcher was still very excited about what she had experienced.

There were few additional details available about the baby afterward, Arellano said, which is typical of such situations.

“Once the call ends, we don’t get many updates,” she said.

But it was learned that the baby was a boy, she said, and Kubishin was rewarded with a blue lapel pin signifying she had helped deliver a male child.

Arellano said Kubishin was well prepared to handle the call. The agency’s dispatchers are trained in handling medical emergencies within their first few months of employment, she said, then they undergo continuing education and recertification on a regular basis.

Additionally, she said, recordings of the agency’s emergency medical calls are listened to by supervisors for quality assurance purposes and to make sure all guidelines are maintained. She said the dispatchers are trained in everything from helping diagnose a stroke to advising callers on how to administer Narcan in the event someone has experienced an opioid overdose.

Arellano said she was very proud of Kubishin, adding she couldn’t help but become a bit emotional when she listened to the recording of the call.

“It kind of gave me chills when I heard the baby crying,” she said.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 ormeasterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e.