Katie Farber, 25, had just started her new job as a 911 operator at the Ventura County Fire Department in California.
On her seventh shift ever, she got a call from a panicked dad. His wife was giving birth. There was no time for an ambulance; this baby was on its way.
Farber fell back on her training. She sent the paramedics rushing off toward the Dow household in Camarillo, California. In the meantime, she settled in to coach the nervous father through the delivery of his own son.
By the time Farber was on the line, the dad, Supreme Dow, could see his new son’s head emerging. Dow’s wife, Tennesha, lay in agony throughout the birth. She wasn’t sure exactly how to proceed.
“Tell her to push with each contraction, with a deep breath in between,” Farber told Dow.
“And have her push hard.”
Her voice didn’t shake. She didn’t say one wrong thing. She was totally calm and in control. That helped Dow keep his cool, which in turn made the birth as easy as possible (not that any birth is exactly easy for the mom)!
Meanwhile, Dow relayed Farber’s commands to his wife.
“You are a queen!” he told his wife. “You are a queen! You are a queen! You are a queen, my woman! Push! Push! Push!”
“Good job sir,” Farber told Dow. “Keep reassuring her.”
Soon enough, little Supreme Dow, Jr. emerged, totally healthy. Farber just had one question left.
“Is it a boy or a girl?” she asked, her words being recorded on the 911 tape of the call.
“It’s a boy,” Dow said.
“A boy,” said Farber. “Congratulations.”
Dow felt a lot calmer once Farber started talking.
She spoke with conviction, with authority, he said. “But more importantly, she sounded like she knew what she was doing, like she’d been through this a million times.”
In fact, Supreme and Tennesha had planned to have this baby at home from the start. They just didn’t plan to do that with zero support and very little preparation. Fortunately they had a little help from a young dispatcher with excellent training.
Two minutes after Supreme Jr. was born, the paramedics arrived on the scene. They verified that both baby and mother were doing fine. They even gave Dow the rare honor of cutting his own son’s umbilical cord.
Three weeks after this dramatic scene, Supreme and Tennesha brought their son to the 911 dispatcher’s office to meet the woman who was so instrumental in this incredible home birth.
Dow greeted Farber in person with a hug.
“Bring it in,” he told her. “You’re family.” Then Dow handed the happy, healthy infant for Farber to hold herself. Tennesha looked on with a smile, while the Dows’ 3-year-old daughter grinned shyly at her mother’s side.
It meant a lot for Farber to get to see the faces behind the story she played such an important role in. And the meeting meant the world to Dow, who was grateful for more than just the help Farber gave him with birthing his son.
It’s a breath of fresh air to say the least,” Dow told Inside Edition. “Because of her, I have a phenomenal story to tell.”
Incredibly, this whole call only took a few minutes. Those minutes will have a lifetime of impact, though. Farber’s service as a 911 dispatcher made a real difference that night.
For someone so young and inexperienced to handle a call of this magnitude speaks volumes about the community of 911 dispatchers across the country. These are the voices Americans hear during their worst possible moments. They’re the ones who calm us down, assure us that help is on its way, and follow up on their promises.
With dispatchers like Farber out there, residents of Ventura County can sleep well. They know that a friendly, helpful voice is just one phone call away.
Little Supreme Jr. got to learn that lesson early. His dad will never forget Farber’s contribution to his family’s well-being. In fact, he has a special term that he uses to refer to Farber.
“You were a life-saver,” he told her. For 911 dispatchers, that’s all just part of a day’s work.