SPANISH FORK, Utah (ABC4) – 911 dispatchers deal with different types of emergencies all day and all night, but one call last Thursday morning was especially stressful.
The frantic voice belonged to a panicking father and the screams in the background belonged to his wife who was in labor. Luckily, that call was answered by the calm voice of Heather Robinson.
Robinson answers the calls nobody ever wants to make.
“911. What is the address of your emergency?”
“Your worst day is our work day,” Robinson tells Behind The Badge. “It’s very, very different than what anybody really thinks we do because they think ‘Oh you just answer the phone. You’re just a glorified secretary,’ but that’s not the case whatsoever.”
Like all emergency dispatchers, Robinson earned her certification through extensive medical, fire, and police training, expertise she needed on the morning of April 15th
“My wife’s in labor,” Graydon Clark said on the phone. “I need you here right now.”
Clark returned from dropping his kids off at school to find his wife Jennifer in labor with their fifth child.
“She was screaming a lot in the background so it was a little difficult to hear,” Robinson says. “I was trying to stay focused, trying to make sure that he had the information to keep the baby safe…He had his cord around his neck so we had to quickly slip that over his head.”
“I want you to slip two fingers under it and try to slide it over its head. Can you do that?,” Robinson asked.
“Yeah the cord’s free,” Graydon replied. “He’s totally out.”
“Baby was having a little difficulty breathing after he was delivered so it was a little stressful then,” Robinson says. “He started crying and kind of just got a wave of relief at that point because you know ‘OK he’s doin’ alright’.”
The paramedics took over from there, and the next day, Behind The Badge caught up with the Clarks and baby Henry via Zoom from their hospital room.
“He came out fast. He’s a little bit bruised…he’s perfect,” Jennifer says.
“You get a towel and you just, just make it happen,” Graydon says. “I think instincts just take over at some point.”
“Adrenaline,” Jennifer adds.
“I knew that the cord needed to come off, but I didn’t know exactly how to get it off,” Graydon continues. “So that’s where Heather was really helpful in just making sure that she calmly talked me through how to do it. I think I probably yelled at her, but she talked me through it.”
“He was actually really pleasant compared to most of the people we have on the phone in a situation like that,” Robinson says with a laugh. “We completely understand. You’re going to be hysterical.”
“We appreciate you so much and we were a little bit crazy at that moment so thank you for being calm,” Jennifer said to Robinson.
The Clark’s four older children had the opportunity to meet their new baby brother for the first time that afternoon and I’m happy to say Mom, baby…and dispatcher are all doing great.
“All is well,” Jennifer says. “He is healthy and we are just so happy and kind of on Cloud 9.”
Or make that Cloud 911.
“I’ve lost lives before and hopefully saved lives before, so everyone has a special spot in your heart, especially the major ones that impact you,” Robinson says. “It’s really cool. I’m just happy that everything worked out for them and they get to enjoy their cute little new baby.”
The Clarks tell Behind The Badge that they think Henry will really get a kick out of all this attention one day and they won’t even have to tell him about it. They can just show him this clip on the internet.