911 operator: ‘I knew this wasn’t a normal call’

CHRISTINE HOGAN COURTESY PHOTO | Riverhead native and Mattituck resident Christine Hogan, a 911 operator, helped coach a woman through safely delivering a baby late last month.

A quick-thinking 911 operator has been honored for helping deliver a baby last month, coaching the new grandparents over the phone on how to ensure the infant’s safety and tie off the umbilical cord.

Christine Hogan, a Riverhead native now living in Mattituck, said the call on Dec. 26 started out as fairly routine.

A grandmother-to-be from Brentwood called to report that her young daughter’s water had just broken. Ms. Hogan told the caller to get her daughter into a comfortable position and then dispatched an ambulance.

But as the call was ending and Ms. Hogan was ready to hang up, the grandmother yelled.

“I heard the woman say, ‘Oh God, I see the baby’s head,’ ’’ Ms. Hogan told the News-Review. “Then I knew this wasn’t a normal call.”

Ms. Hogan, an 8-year veteran of the emergency calls center, had never delivered a baby over the phone. But the former Riverhead Ambulance Volunteer Corps member said she was able to snap into action thanks to her 911 operator training.

As the grandmother cradled the phone on her shoulder, Ms. Hogan told her how to hold the baby’s head to stabilize it and how to get fluid out of the newborn’s nose and mouth.

While Ms. Hogan worked, her supervisor and coworkers began to listen in on the call.

“It was a little nerve-wracking,” Ms. Hogan said.

Within three minutes, the baby was born, and Ms. Hogan heard the little girl’s first cries.

“When you hear that baby cry, you know the baby’s breathing,” she said. “Once I heard that cry, I thought ‘Oh this is great. This is a good call.’ That was a great sigh of relief.” The baby girl was healthy.

Ms. Hogan had the grandmother wrap the baby in towels, and the grandfather used a shoelace to tie off the umbilical cord. The ambulance arrived on the scene minutes later, she said.

There were “a lot of cheers” in the office after she hung up the phone, Ms. Hogan said.

Ms. Hogan was later honored by the Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees for helping to deliver the baby.

She also met with the mother and grandparents a few weeks ago and got to hold the baby — named Grace — whom she helped bring into the world.

But Ms. Hogan doesn’t want to take much credit for the delivery.

“I’m so grateful that I’m getting the praise that I’m getting, but really, as a whole, my whole office deserves praise for the everyday work they do,” she said.

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