Police department highlighting dispatchers who helped deliver babies

Published: Nov. 3, 2023 at 5:26 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Any parent will tell you that driving to the hospital while mom is in labor is already stressful enough as it is, but if it looks like you aren’t even going to make it to the hospital before the baby comes, that’s an entirely different story.

On Thursday, Nov. 2, the Grand Junction Police Department dispatch received two separate 911 calls from anxious parents who were en route to the hospital to deliver their babies. However, the babies had different ideas. Each week, on average the dispatch center receives 1,500 calls for just the police department alone. According to the GJPD, calls regarding babies being born are rare.

“We dispatch a lot of medical calls,” said Kira Rushton, emergency communication specialist. “But for the most part, it’s like falls or I was throwing up or I fell off my bike or things like that.”

Rushton said she was raised in a law enforcement family. Her father is a police officer, and her mom is a retired firefighter. For a long time, she yearned to be a dispatcher.

During her time at the dispatch center, she’s gotten countless calls, but the one on Thursday was one she’ll always remember.

“It was my first call coming back from lunch, I sat down the phone was ringing, picked it up 911. This is Kara, what’s the address of your emergency,” Rushton recalled. “My wife’s having a baby and we’re not going to make it to the hospital.”

That’s when the adrenaline kicked in, and Rushton said she looked back at her training.

“Pregnancy and labor is one that we’ve all learned as we’ve gone through it,” said Rushton. “I’ve practiced it multiple times. But just because I’ve practiced it doesn’t mean I know exactly how to do it.”

Despite practicing in training and getting nervous on the call, Rushton said she knew she had to remain calm to help the anxious father.

“I was nervous, he was nervous, we were both stressed,” said Rushton. “I just had to be a little less stressed than he was because I had to tell him what to do.”

The family was on their way to Community Hospital coming from Delta. They got to about 29 Road in the Grand Valley when it was time to deliver their baby girl.

“She was really patient with us and walked us through it until the first responders got there,” said John Sandels, who delivered his baby in the car. “It was pretty nerve-wracking. It was an experience, not one I expected to have. Not one I’m really necessarily looking forward to having again.”

But the Sandels’ baby was just the tip of the iceberg. Shortly after theirs was born, the dispatch center got another call, from a family with another baby, who didn’t want to wait to get to the hospital.

“My coworker Emily was really lucky, she was able to help someone deliver a little baby boy, just a few hours after me,” said Rushton. ”Which never happens.”

According to Rushton, during her time in dispatch, she’s gotten around three calls from parents rushing to the hospital. Every one of them either made it to the hospital in time, or the first responders made it to the parents before the baby was born. This week’s call is the first time she’s had to deliver the baby all the way. As a celebration for such occasions, the GJPD presents the dispatchers with a certificate as well as a stork pin. Mementos to help remember the joy of helping bring a life into the world.

“We get the roughest of the rough, we get people in their worst moment,” said Rushton. “So it’s so nice to be able to have those special little moments where you’re like, this is a really big deal. “But it’s a really big deal in a really positive way.”