October 27, 2009 in City

Girl helps bring sister into world

Seventh-grader relayed 911 instructions to family
By The Spokesman-Review

Emma Herb holds her newborn sister, Hadley, as her family gathers for a photo with Spokane Fire Department dispatcher Linda Hendrix on Monday at Sacajawea Middle School in Spokane. After her mother quickly went into labor, Emma called 911 and repeated childbirth instructions to her parents, Amanda and Jim.
(Full-size photo)

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 pin.” The pins are often worn by first responders who help deliver babies.

The Herb family’s scary but ultimately happy day came Sept. 24. Emma’s mother, 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 that many times she has helped callers tend to women in labor until emergency crews arrive. But this was her first time talking 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 father, Jim. Hadley Herb was born 20 minutes after Emma’s mother went into labor.

Emma “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.

The seventh-grader couldn’t say how she managed kept her cool. But she knows her parents are grateful.

“It was all kind of overwhelming,” she said.

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