PARKERSBURG - Trick or treat took on a whole new meaning Wednesday morning when 911 dispatcher Aaron Fleenor helped Paul Russell deliver his brand new baby daughter.
"We were on the way to the hospital. My wife had been in labor all night. Her water broke as we were heading out the door," Paul Russell said later Wednesday from the hospital. This was the couple's third child.
Russell said he drove as far as he could with his wife in labor. When she could wait no longer, he pulled into the parking lot of the Blennerhassett Volunteer Fire Department.
Paul and Lindsay Russell with their daughters Alivia, Adelynn and new baby Avalea born Wednesday morning. (Photo Provided)
"I pulled over. I think at that point we were both panicking," he said. Russell called 911 and got dispatcher Aaron Fleenor on the line. Fleenor was about an hour or so into his shift.
"By the time I was on the phone my daughter's head was out and I was freaking out all over the dispatcher. I really didn't do that much till my wife pushed again, then one more time and the baby's shoulders came out. We were so relieved at that point. We covered her up with a blanket a family member had given us and we cranked the heat up in the truck. By that time the emergency medical people had arrived. Things went about as good as they could, all things considered," Russell said, considering his wife gave birth in his truck.
From the beginning of the 911 call until emergency personnel arrived was about seven minuets, said 911 Director Randy Lowe, but for Russell it seemed an eternity.
"To be honest, I'm sure I was probably yelling over the phone. I had to put the phone down. and I had it on speaker and the truck was running, but I was concentrating on what I was doing," Russell said. "It went from being panic-stricken terror to complete relief and joy. Once her head was out and nothing happened for a minute or so, I panicked. But once her shoulders came out, I knew we would be OK," he said. "My wife did a good job and I was very proud of her."
Avalea, at 6 pounds 15 ounces, came into the world and Russell said his wife, new daughter and he are all doing fine.
Lowe said in 2005 the local 911 center became certified to do emergency medical dispatching under the nationally certified Association of Public Safety Communications Officials Emergency Medical Dispatching protocol. Through the program, the dispatchers are provided with procedures and instructions on just about any medical emergency.
"Last year, the Legislature mandated all counties must have emergency medical dispatching. They have a year to comply. This is why it's important. If we didn't have this certification and weren't trained in the protocols and procedures, all the dispatcher could do is be supportive," Lowe said.
Lowe said as far he knows, this is the first time a dispatcher has aided in the actual delivery of a baby. "They have assisted in the past with some children and babies who were choking and women in labor, but never the actual delivery of a baby," he said.
Fleenor has been a dispatcher at the center since its opening in 1999.
"The caller was a little excited, naturally. He said he was at the Blennerhassett fire station and his wife was having a baby in his truck. I knew I needed to call up the EMC program, and I started asking the father the series of questions we need to know and need to provide to the emergency responders. I then asked another dispatcher to call the emergency medical personnel and they were en route," Fleenor said.
"He seemed to calm down some. He was telling me everything that was happening. He said the head was present and then he said she's out, and I went through those protocols," Fleenor said. "I could hear the baby in the background crying; that's always a good sign."
"This was a first for me," Fleenor said. "It was relief afterward. You get that moment you can finally take a breathe afterward. It was a group effort. I was on the phone, but the other dispatchers were assisting in getting the help there they needed."
Oct. 31, 2012, is one day the Russell family and dispatcher Fleenor won't soon forget.