ESSEX COUNTY, Va. -- Sept. 28 started off like any other day for Essex County Communications Officer Jessica Sydnor.
"It was a busy morning," she explained.
While working a call for a brush fire on one end of the county, a new tone came over Sydnor's emergency line.
“I can't imagine being on the other end of that phone," Sydnor noted.
On the other end was Terry Washington. And his wife Krystal was in active labor.
“I had no idea what I was doing," Terry said.
“I woke up about 6:30 a.m.," said Krystal. "I went to the living room to take care of my son, and then I'm on my way back to the bedroom, and my water broke."
Within minutes, Krystal was delivering their child, her husband on one side of her, and Sydnor walking them through what to do, step-by-step over the phone.
"She was like hold the back of her head, and make sure the head's supported," Terry explained.
Thankfully, Sydnor knew exactly what to do because she had just finished a new training in the emergency medical dispatch program. That program talks dispatchers through medical calls and helps them explain to callers what they should do before EMS personnel arrive.
"This was our first childbirth that any of us had had so far, and the first big thing that we've used with this new program," said Sydnor.
Moments before an ambulance turned on Sunnyside Road, Krystal gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl named Isabella weighing 6 pounds, 13 ounces.
"She really helped me through this," said Terry. "Without her, I wouldn't have been able to do this. I mean by myself, I would have freaked out."
"There was a big sigh of relief on my end as well," noted Sydnor.
While they can laugh about their modified birth plan now, the Washington family is forever grateful for this first responder’s calm and informative voice.
"If she wasn't on the phone, I probably would have YouTubed it," laughed Terry.
"There's more that we do other than running traffic stops, more than we do than just 'Oh, I think someone's breaking into my house,'" Sydnor explained. "We do more than just that. We're here if grandma falls on the floor, and grandma needs help getting up. We're here for that. We're here for 'Hey, my wife's in labor.' We're here for that.”
While the family hopes they won’t have an emergency anytime soon, they don’t have to dial 911 to know the county’s first responders have their back.
"It's not over just because the phone hangs up," smiled Sydnor.
All Essex County communications officers are now certified as EMD providers.
The Washingtons decided “Miracle” was a fitting middle name for little Isabella, and Essex County Sheriff “Arnie” Holmes has called to check on the Washingtons every week since Isabella’s birth. He and his team even brought over diapers and other supplies.
"I am really proud of my Communications Center along with EMS providers, who took part in the birth of a child on Sept. 28," said Sheriff Holmes in a statement. "These young men and women leave their home every day to protect the citizens of Essex County not knowing if they are going to return home to their families."