911 Dispatcher Answers Calls of a Lifetime

Angi Adams walks father through surprise birth and saves seizing daughter.

January 13, 2010, 12:35 PM

Jan. 13, 2010— -- They say lightning doesn't strike the same place twice, but only a few weeks into her new job as a 911 dispatcher, Angi Adams had already handled two emergency calls some of her veteran colleagues had never had to take.

It was Adams' first official night on the job at Montcalm Country Central dispatch last April when a call came in from a frantic father just after 2:30 a.m.

"[I] answered it just like I would answer any call, and the caller said that he thought his wife was having a baby," Adams, 36, recalled. "He was speaking really fast ... very hyper, and I knew ... we had something going on."

The caller, 32-year-old Ryan Emmons, told Adams that his wife Carri was having a baby. "I think she's in labor right now," he said, with Carri's screams audible in the background. "Oh, my God, I'm looking at a baby! ... I didn't know my wife was pregnant."

Adams stayed calm, asking for the Emmons' address as though an emergency call for a surprise birth was commonplace.

For the next 11 minutes, the rookie dispatcher kept her composure as she guided the shocked couple through a slew of post-delivery procedures, like wiping off the baby's mouth and nose with a dry towel and tying the umbilical cord.

Click here to listen to the 911 call

Adams admitted that as the call unfolded she was puzzled. "When he said, 'I think she's having a baby,' I said 'What do you mean you think?' Most people know they're going to have a baby," Adams recalled.

Though she recognized the bizarre situation she was dealing with over the phone, Adams said her job was to stay focused on the well-being of the newborn child and mother.

"I was nervous, you know," Adams said. "I wanted to make sure Mom was OK, baby was OK."

Carri and Ryan welcomed William Gerald Emmons, a healthy 9 pound 9 ounce baby boy into the world -- thanks in large part to the guidance they received from the voice on the other end of the phone.

Click here for more on Carri's surprise pregnancy

Most 911 dispatchers say being at the controls when a baby is born is a very rare event. Adams said the call was the kind of adrenaline rush she spent months preparing for in a rigorous training program.

"It's intense, extremely intense," Adams said. "There are days you really doubt yourself. ... You second-guess yourself. Did I make the right call?

"It can be very emotional," she said. "You have to stay focused, you have to stay in control of the caller to make sure they get the help they need."

Nightmare Call for 911 Dispatcher

If helping Carri and Ryan Emmons deliver their surprise baby was Angie's best call, her worst came just a few weeks later when a familiar voice cried into the phone that her cousin was having a seizure.

Vaguely aware of the address that had popped up on her screen, Adams launched into her scripted list of questions when it finally hit her that the cousin in distress was her very own daughter Alison.

"My heart dropped to my stomach, and I said, 'Sadie, it's Angi,'" Adams recalled.

Obviously, her first thoughts were of concern for her daughter, but without wasting another second she flipped off the mom hat and replaced it with the calm, collected one she uses to talk callers through emergencies day after day.

With Adam's mother-in-law clearly panicking and desperate for help, Adams repeatedly tried to reassure her in a tone that was both authoritative and familiar.

Though she may have wanted to hang up the phone and rush to her young daughter's side, Adams instead focused on getting the "patient" the help she needed.

"I had to tell [my mother-in-law] to make sure that everything's out of the way and not to put anything in her mouth," she said.

On the 911 call, Adams calmly commended her mother-in-law, directed paramedics to the house and her daughter stopped seizing. Only then did she revert back to mom mode, turning to her boss to say, "Gotta go!"

With nearly a year of experience under her belt, Adams' dedication to providing the best emergency care is well documented. She told "20/20" that she doesn't consider her actions heroic.

"I just give them direction," she said, "That's my job."