A dispatcher in New London talked a couple through the delivery of their newborn Thursday morning when the baby started to arrive during the drive to the hospital.
The two were driving toward Backus Hospital in Norwich, where the woman’s doctor works, according to Fire Chief Tom Curcio. But around 4:15 a.m. they pulled over by the Family Worship Center on Huntington Street and called 9-1-1.
Dispatcher Rich Waselik picked up the call.
“At first it wasn’t clear the baby was going to be delivered at that point until I heard the mother screaming,” Waselik said.
In a recording of the 9-1-1 call he can be heard coaching the husband about protecting the newborn’s head, clearing his airways and making sure he was crying, and keeping the child warm.
The baby boy was delivered within mere minutes of the start of the call.
Waselik has a 16-year career as a New London public safety dispatcher, but his career in dispatching and as a first responder has spanned more than two decades. He said he’s currently a fire captain at Oakdale Fire Department, a member of the Jewett City Fire Department and works per diem at Mystic River Ambulance. He also teaches classes in EMS, First Aid and CPR.
But never in his career does Waselik recall delivering a baby over his phone. His field training came in handy—and he visualized the situation.
“You’re used to having that in front of you and now you’re trying to picture in your head and trying to make the good outcome as much as possible in your head. And trying to pass the information onto them whether a little more frantic than usual,” he said.
This baby boy was the second child for the family, according to New London firefighters on scene.
Waselik credits the man for his calmness and a job well done.
“Great job. He was probably one of the greatest attributes to the outcome of the call,” he said, also crediting a fellow dispatcher and every firefighter on scene.
New London fire crews arrived just four minutes after being dispatched. That’s where Chief Curcio said they found mom, in the front passenger seat, with a baby in her arms.
“This is not one of our normal calls,” said Lt. Michael Leonard, who responded to the call.
Firefighters cut the umbilical cord and transported mom and baby safely to the nearby L+M Hospital in New London.
“Mother is holding her newborn; baby’s happy. They said the baby is crying. We know the baby’s good to go now,” Leonard said. “It's very good to see somebody having a great day like that. It definitely makes you feel good about your job.”
Curcio said as far as he is aware, all is well with mom and baby. A spokesperson for L+M Hospital said the family wanted their privacy at this time.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story listed the incorrect hospital. The family was driving toward Backus Hospital.