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An urgent cry for help is always a phone call away for the staff at Chagrin Valley Dispatch, a communications center covering the greater Cleveland area. When dispatchers pick up a call, they never know what they’re going to encounter, but they’re trained to deal with any kind of emergency.
The unpredictability, coupled with the dispatcher’s calm-under-pressure expertise, combine to make Oxygen’s new series, “911 Crisis Center,” airing Saturdays at 9/8c, gripping TV.
The show’s second episode follows dispatcher Christine Mazzeo, who picks up a call from a man reporting that his wife is in active labor. Mazzeo, who’s been a dispatcher for 12 years, “realized there wasn’t much time before this baby was going to make her grand entrance,” Chagrin Valley Dispatch later reported on Facebook.
An ambulance was dispatched to the couple’s address. Mazzeo instructed the man to have his wife lie on the floor to keep her as comfortable as possible. “If she needs to push, that’s what we’re going to do,” she said, assuring him that help is on the way. “Don’t pull the baby out.”
As the infant’s head emerges, the man said “the baby’s purple.” The baby continued to fully come out and the father reported the umbilical cord was “around her head.”
“Don’t pull on the cord,” Mazzeo instructed. “But I want you to try and loosen or unwrap the cord so it’s not choking the baby, OK?”
During the call, there was concern about whether the baby was breathing or not. “But after some drying off and warming up with a towel, the little girl perked up and let us hear some newborn baby cries,” the dispatch wrote in the follow-up Facebook post.
“Just keep trying to stimulate her, OK?” Mazzeo told the dad, whose newborn daughter let out a wail. “Keep her crying, that’s good.”
An officer arrived on the scene to take over. “You did a great job,” Mazzeo assured the grateful father. When the call ended, cheers erupted from Mazzeo’s colleagues.
“There’s a lot that can go wrong in childbirth,” Mazzeo told producers. “I have to be able to anticipate all the things that can go wrong. Is Mom OK? Is the baby moving? Is the baby breathing? It’s just a very high-stress situation.”
For her efforts Chagrin Valley Dispatch awarded her with a “Stork Pin,” an honor “reserved for those who aid in the delivery of a baby,” reported cleveland19.com. She shares the honor with just two other dispatchers.
"A lot of our calls that we take are really just a lot of bad things that happen to people so a call like this really helps me keep going,” Mazzeo said. “I brought life into the world. It's a good feeling. That is the first time I've delivered a baby over the phone.”
Other calls received concern a child believed to be missing, an escalating argument where shots are fired, and a lap dance dispute.
To learn more about these calls and the dispatchers, watch “911 Crisis Center,” airing Saturdays at 9/8c on Oxygen.
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