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Training key for 911 staff

When emergencies arise in the Valley Beautiful, local operators are on the clock for any situation.
For Unicoi County’s 911 dispatchers, training is vital for them to successfully handle the many emergency calls received at their office on Jackson Love Highway in Erwin.
In recent months, dispatchers have used their training to talk two women through childbirth.
Myron Edwards, a 911 operator, said the most recent case occurred just over one month ago.
“It is the second time we’ve had that,” Edwards said. “Our operator, Jennifer Desmarais, helped a woman deliver a child by talking her through it over the phone.”
Edwards works with dispatch and is a trainer with the facility, but this is not all he does. Edwards is also a fully-licensed paramedic, with over 20 years working with the ambulances in Tennessee and North Carolina.
With the responsibilities on the road and the office, doing good work is about preparation. That preparation, he said, aided the facility in helping a family during a pregnancy a little more than a month ago. The family called dispatch to head to the hospital, but the child wasn’t ready to wait.
“It is stressful,” he said, “but it is all about keeping calm. The dispatchers do a great job of following by the EMD – Emergency Medical Dispatch – protocols. They give a lot of directions to people over the phone on how to stay calm during a situation.
“Jennifer talked her through every step of the way. We have a great group of dispatchers.”
Edwards is familiar to the scenario when it comes to deliveries. During his time as a paramedic in North Carolina, he helped deliver a child inside an ambulance on two different occasions.
With the help of Desmarais, paramedics were able to respond to the location while a little bundle of joy awaited their arrival. After going through the proper procedure, the child checked out healthy following the birthing process, Edwards said.
EMD protocols help dispatchers prepare for any emergency inside Unicoi County – not just childbirth.
“We stay on the phone until EMS is able to arrive on scene,” he explained. “In that allotted time, it is all about keeping calm during any situation. We do what we can to help the situation before EMS can make it.”
It is an enjoyable sight, Edwards said, with all the support and information coming from the operations center.
“It all comes down to training,” he said. “It’s a great situation to know that the money coming into the organization is making positives. Our goal is to serve the community to the best of our abilities.”