By Jessie Wagoner
Jill Brunsell, Communication Supervisor at McPherson Dispatch has answered a variety of 911 calls over her 23 years with dispatch. Most of them are difficult calls—people calling during some of the scariest moments of their lives. But when Brunsell answered the call on Jan. 19, it was a call she had never received before: a baby delivery.
Jewell Weibert was the one who placed the call. Her full-term pregnancy was closer to coming to an end than she was to the hospital. This baby was coming quickly, and 911 was the only option left.
“I answered and it was the mom,” Brunsell said. “She said, ‘I’m going to have my baby.’ I thought, ‘OK, she is having contractions; she needs to get to the hospital.’ She put her husband on the phone, and I started asking him questions, and one of our questions is, ‘Can you see any part of the baby?’ He said, ‘Well, I see the head.’”
With Zach Weibert confirming he could see the baby’s head, Brunsell knew they were, in fact, having a baby sooner rather than later. Weibert placed Brunsell on speakerphone and followed her directions. Shortly before Jewell delivered the baby, the McPherson Fire Department arrived on scene to assist.
“I don’t know how much of a help I was,” Brunsell said. “I just kept encouraging her and cheering her on, even though I wasn’t positive she could even hear me.”
Before disconnecting the call, Brunsell was privy to some information: the baby was healthy and doing well and it was a little girl.
Like most calls, when the dispatcher hangs up, they don’t get much more information. But about a week after the delivery, the Weiberts, along with their older daughter, Decklyn, and new baby Tori stopped by dispatch for a visit. They brought the dispatchers some treats and expressed their thanks for helping get Tori earth side safely.
“It was so nice of them to come by,” Brunsell said. “That doesn’t happen very often.”
It isn’t very often dispatchers help deliver babies, either. Brunsell can only remember two other deliveries happening during her 23-year career. With the fast response time of the McPherson Fire Department and EMS, it is especially rare for a delivery to happen within the city limits.
It is also rare for Brunsell to take calls anymore. She works in more of an administrative role now. However, since dispatch is so short-staffed right now, she has been coming into work early to cover part of the night shift.
“I don’t usually take calls, but we are so short-staffed,” Brunsell said. “We are hiring if anyone is interested. We have four positions open out of 17. So we are all working a lot of long shifts, extra shifts.”
After 23 years on the job, Brunsell has finally found her spot in the Stork Club. The Stork Club is a fun recognition among dispatchers to celebrate a good call. Brunsell received a stork pin and was recognized by the McPherson County Commission. She has also received some gifts and recognition from other dispatch groups around the state.
“It was really nice,” Brunsell said. “Things have been hard lately, with COVID and being short staffed. Every workplace is stressed right now. So this was a nice thing, a happy thing that we all an enjoy.”
If you are interested in applying to be an emergency dispatcher, apply online at https://www.facebook.com/jobs/job-opening/963692791239039/?source=post_timeline. Starting wage is $16.31 an hour. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a valid Kansas license, high school diploma or GED and a clear criminal history. Previous dispatch experience is not required. They will train the right person.