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Seventh-grader honored for helping deliver sibling

Emma Herb, center in polka dots, holds her newborn sister Hadley as her family gathers for a photo with Spokane Fire Department dispatcher Linda Hendrix, far right, Monday, Oct. 26, 2009, at Sacajawea Middle School. (Christopher Anderson / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane firefighters Monday honored a 12-year-old’s courage and calmness in helping with her baby sister’s birth.

“You have a hero among you,” June Watson, a Spokane Fire Department training officer for dispatchers, said during a presentation in front of Emma Herb’s seventh-grade science class at Sacajawea Middle School. “Because of your brave assistance to bring your little sister into the world, we are giving you a pink stork (club) pin.”

The scary but ultimately happy day came on Sept. 24. Emma’s mom, Amanda, went into labor. It was her fifth child, and she could tell the baby was coming fast.

Emma called 911 and was connected to fire dispatchers because of the medical emergency. Officially, it was an “imminent childbirth” call.

Linda Hendrix, who has worked in fire dispatch for 18 years, said many times she has helped callers tend to women in labor until emergency crews arrive. But this was her first time walking a caller through a delivery.

“Dispatchers live for this,” Watson said of Hendrix’s call. “So often we deal with the icky stuff…. Everyone wants to do a childbirth.”

As Hendrix gave the instructions, Emma repeated them to her dad. Hadley Herb was born 20 minutes after Emma’s mother went into labor.

“We had Emma. She was our lifeline from how to deliver the baby to how to tie the cord off and all that,” Amanda Herb said. “She was grace under pressure.”

When the firefighters arrived, “all they had to do was cut the (umbilical) cord and go,” Watson said.

Looking back to a month ago, the seventh grader doesn’t recall how she kept her cool. But she knows her mom and dad, Jim, are grateful.

“It was all kind of overwhelming.”

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