Jeff Poff’s co-workers joke that he is going to have to find something to top his rookie experience.
Just 18 days into his job as a dispatcher with the he helped save the life a newborn baby who was a little too eager to join his Mukwonago parents’ world.
Poff, a South Milwaukee resident, received a 911 call as he was working around 9:30 a.m. March 16 on the dispatch floor while his training officer Holly Dischler, a 17-year dispatching veteran, was listening in on the call. Bobby Larson was on the other line, telling him his wife, Shauna, was having their baby.
“My first initial instinct was ‘OK, she is going into labor,’” Poff said.
As Poff started to dispatch an ambulance in the Town of Mukwonago to their residence, the father said something that immediately changed things.
“He says, ‘Oh my God, I have my hand on the head,’” Poff said.
Giving another dispatcher the address for the ambulance, Poff stayed on the phone to work Bobby through the birth. But Nolan had already been delivered.
“The next thing he says to me is the baby is not breathing,” Poff said.
Massage the baby with a towel, Poff recalled telling Bobby, rub the baby’s back with a towel for about 30 seconds.
“You hear a couple of coughs in the background and the baby starts screaming,” Poff said. “There was a big exhale in the whole dispatch room here. ... It was a big relief on everybody that we didn’t have to go into CPR and everything else that we are trained to do."
Poff told Bobby to give Shauna baby Nolan to tie off the umbilical cord. As the ambulance arrived to take them to the hospital, Poff knew everything was going to be OK. Shauna and Nolan received a clean bill of health after the speedy birth.
“It is surreal,” Poff said. “This is why I got into this business. This is why we do what we do. We always say we want to help people. That is exactly right.”
A Voice on the Phone
Dispatchers talk with countless people throughout their career without evermeeting them. But Poff had the chance to meet Bobby, Shauna and Nolan Larson on Thursday when they visited the dispatch center.
“All I knew was a voice,” Poff said.
Poff also met Nolan’s three older brothers, Jackson, Bryce and Lucas, when the grateful family stopped in to thank Poff.
"I can't thank him enough,” Bobby told Patch’s media partners WISN 12 News. “I mean, it was courageous to have a calm voice on the other side of the phone and I couldn't have done it without him.”
Emergency calls involving kids “hits home a little more” for dispatchers, Poff said, so it was especially gratifying for him to hold little Nolan in his arms.
“It was one of the biggest rewards I have every had,” Poff said. “It is a great feeling inside. I can’t top that. Until I have kids of my own, it was probably one of my highlights of my life right there.”
Training Helped Keep Poff Calm
Poff credits his six weeks of training he received before moving to the dispatch floor with his ability to help the Larson family. After he handled the call with the ease of an experienced dispatcher, he admitted his face was flushed.
But when it mattered, he remembered all his training.
“Being as new as I was, I am surprised I was the calm, cool and collected guy on the phone the whole time,” Poff said.
“This happy day would not be possible without our amazing employees and the training and access they have to the emergency medical dispatch protocol,” said Sherri Stigler, training and operations manager for Waukesha County Communications. “These instructions give us the tools to be able to help save lives. In this case, it truly didn’t matter that Jeff was a new dispatcher. He followed his protocol, relied on his training and he was able to make a difference.
“We are so proud of the cooperative effort here between our center, Mukwonago dispatch, and the Mukwonago EMS crew. Everyone worked together to turn a very scary situation into an overwhelming joy.”