LOTS OF GRATITUDE - Holly Shrader, a 9-1-1 dispatcher, holding Daxton Stearn, was thanked by the Stearn family for her assistance in his delivery. Michelle Falk/Red Deer Express

WATCH: Red Deer 9-1-1 dispatcher thanked for birth assistance

Stearns family appreciative to Holly Shrader for helping deliver baby

Today was an emotional first meeting for Holly Shrader and one-month-old baby Daxton Stearns who she helped deliver over 9-11 dispatch on Friday, Oct. 13th.

On Nov. 23rd, Jason and Rachel Stearns, along with newborn Daxton and his older brother, two-year-old Cooper, visited the Red Deer Emergency Services headquarters to formally thank Shrader and the department for the essential role she played in the unplanned home-birth of their son.

“One of the main things that goes through your mind is ‘please just let me be able to do my job right today,’” said Shrader when asked what was going through her mind during the call.

She was honoured with a “stork club” certificate and awarded a pin by the department for assisting in a successful delivery. This is the second birth she has coached from start to finish over the phone. She said it was such a relief that the story had a happy ending and that they all got lucky with the baby arriving so quickly.

“Normally it doesn’t happen that fast, not even close to that fast, so usually we start out with giving instructions on what to do and then the paramedics swoop in and take all the glory before the baby’s born,” she said.

The labour began similarly to their first son, Rachel said. She was eight days overdue, so they headed into Red Deer hospital and she was induced. They were sent home to wait for the induction to take effect, just as they had last time. Instead of the three-hour wait before returning, the family was home less than an hour when Rachel realized that the baby was coming. She instructed Jason to call 9-1-1 immediately.

“Within seconds of making the call we were holding the baby,” Jason said. The cord had been wrapped around Daxton’s neck twice when he arrived, and he was not breathing.

Daxton Duke Stearns was born on Friday, October 13 at home in the bathroom weighing 6 lbs, 14 oz and measuring 19.74 inches long. The Stearns’ had not been planning a home birth.

“It was a Friday the 13th to remember, that’s for sure,” said Jason who has had past incidents with the auspicious day. He joked that he had not had time to put on his hockey mask.

Jason said that it was a real comfort to have Shrader on the other end of the phone as he tried to get his son breathing.

“I don’t know anything about delivering babies,” he said.

Shrader, a mother of three young adults herself, who said she is “desperate for grandkids,” chalks her effectiveness entirely up to her training. She felt confident knowing that her skills are always kept current.

“It’s all in the training. We have a wonderful education support here and we’re always continuing our education non stop re-certifying in everything yearly and it pays off, it really pays off,” she said.

She had tears in her eyes and she cuddled Daxton and expressed extreme gratitude to the family for coming. She said it was the first time she had the opportunity to meet someone she had assisted.

“It was an awesome day,” she said of the birth. “It makes your day, it makes your week, your year.”

– Michelle Falk/Red Deer Express