Dispatcher honored for help with baby’s birth

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 8 March 2020 at 5:41 pm

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Sheriff Chris Bourke, left, and Undersheriff Mike Mele, right, congratulate Jerry Bentley after the sheriff announced he had nominated Bentley as the February Employee of the Month in Orleans County for assisting in the delivery of a baby while working as a dispatcher.

BARRE – A Barre firefighter and Orleans County dispatcher has been named the county’s Employee of the Month in February for what turned out to be a historic delivery of a baby.

Jerry Bentley was on duty as an Orleans County dispatcher at the 911 emergency communications center on Feb. 28 when a call came in at 3:23 in the morning from a man who said his wife was going to have a baby.

He requested an ambulance and Bentley proceeded to get the pertinent information.

“I told him I was going to get him some help and just as I was going to hang up, the man said, ‘She’s going to have the baby right now,’” Bentley said. “I asked if her water had broken, and he said no, but he could already see the baby’s hair. I snapped my fingers to my partner, which is the signal to dispatch, and I stayed on the phone as he dispatched the ambulance and East Shelby Fire Company.”

Bentley, a past Barre fire chief, began to tell the father what to do. He instructed him how to clamp the umbilical cord and told him to wipe the baby’s nose and mouth. Then he asked if the baby was breathing. Finally, Bentley heard the baby cry, and it was pure joy, he said.

Only four minutes elapsed from the time Bentley took the call until the baby was born, he said. East Shelby was on the scene seven minutes after the call, followed right behind by COVA and Orleans County Sheriff’s deputy Dave Martek.

Responding for East Shelby was president Mike Fuller, Dave Green and Scott Barber.

“When we walked in, the father was down on his knees holding the baby,” Green said.

Green has been a volunteer firefighter with East Shelby for 59 years, served nine years as Orleans County Fire Coordinator and Emergency Management director and then spent 20 years as sheriff, and this was the first time he was involved in the delivery of a baby, he said.

Bentley added he has been in the fire service 30 years and this was his first experience in the delivery of a baby.

“I may never get an opportunity like that again,” he said.

The delivery will also go down in history as the first birth certificate which has been issued in the town of Barre in more than 30 years.

As an added note, Sheriff Bourke stated there is pending legislation currently in the works to designate dispatchers as first responders. The sheriff emphasized that this incident is a perfect example of how dispatchers can be called upon to act as a first responder.

Bentley said passing the law would provide added benefits to dispatchers, and the public is urged to contact their local legislators and tell them they are in favor of passing of the law.

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