Delivering babies, helping victims, upset fast food customers: Onslow 911 dispatchers hear it all

·5 min read
Kristina Andrews won the award for most answered calls, third quarter, in 2021.
Kristina Andrews won the award for most answered calls, third quarter, in 2021.

From delivering babies to talking down upset Hardee's customers and instructing CPR, 911 dispatchers hear it all.

Yes, fast food customers.

"My very first 911 call, it was actually Jones County, it had just hit the line because it was so close to our county," said Onslow communications supervisor dispatcher Stephanie Allen. "It was at the Hardee's in Maysville, and they were upset because their cheeseburger was not made correctly and he was arguing with the staff there. He was not going to hang up with me until law enforcement got there. That was my first actual 911 call."

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The Onslow County Board of Commissioners proclaimed April 10-16 Telecommunicators Week in Onslow County during its April 4 regular meeting, which is in line with National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week.

"I just really enjoy the job overall, it's good to have an impact on others," dispatcher Kristina Andrews said. "I like to talk, so it works, I'm talking to people."

Andrews recently experienced her first child birth call, a call she said has been the most impactful in her time at 911, which is just more than a year. Andrews said she had a child birth call a month prior, but didn't feel she was ready, and was both disappointed and relieved when she ended up not delivering the baby.

"When I got to this one, I was like, 'oh my god, I finally get my baby,'" Andrews said. "I was super excited, I was like I can quit now, I've accomplished my mission."

Allen, who was a volunteer firefighter before coming to 911, agreed that her first child birth was the most impactful call she's had in her 16 years as a dispatcher. The experience took place in 2008, and Allen said delivering a baby is everyone's ultimate goal.

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Allen said it was a couple who was having their first child, and that normally, first children take longer to come. In this instance, that was not the case.

"The father called 911," Allen said. "He was very cool, calm and collected, the mother was screaming at the top of her lungs. The baby was out within, I think it was like a minute and 25 seconds.

"Where they were located, it took EMS a little bit longer to get there, so, I had to go all the way through all the questioning, we tied off the umbilical cord, we delivered the afterbirth and they had nothing to put it in other than a fish tank because they wanted to keep it for later. That is the one thing I do remember 100% of it."

Stephanie Allen is the communications supervisor for Onslow County E-911.
Stephanie Allen is the communications supervisor for Onslow County E-911.

Allen said sometimes, dispatches will get to meet the families they help, and one dispatcher last year was able to meet the mother, grandmother and baby.

Not all calls have a happy ending, though, and Allen said you have to learn quick how to not take work home.

"Some of the calls stick with you a lot more than we would like them to, because there's days where it's just the routine calls, things that we're used to, and then there's days where things we've never encountered in our whole career here, and it's a whole different situation," Allen said.

Andrews said it can definitely be exciting, though, and that she's learned a lot.

"It's definitely been a big, new, experience and they can be either boring or crazy, there's pretty much no in between," Andrews said.

Allen said there are pretty much no slow days, just slow times, and that Sundays can be some of their busiest days.

A telecommunicator works at the Onslow County 911 center.
A telecommunicator works at the Onslow County 911 center.

"We're coming a long way in the 911 world, more recognition is being given," Allen said. "If you go in with the mindset that I'm here to help, I mean you truly get to help, I don't know, I couldn't imagine doing anything else. I thought I wanted to be a teacher and then I was like let me try this, this was the best thing I ever did."

911 Division Chief Ray Silance said they'll be doing things all week long to recognize the telecommunicators and show their appreciation.

Norman Bryson, Director of Onslow County Emergency Services, said 911 dispatchers do everything from provide CPR instructions, choke instructions, instructions on birthing children, act as counselors, and more.

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"We could not do the job we do without them and I greatly appreciate them for what they do," Bryson said.

Commissioners Vice Chairman Tim Foster said his family had to call 911 a few weeks ago, and he doesn't know who was on the other end of the line, but he appreciates whoever answered the phone.

Within seven minutes, emergency services had shown up to transport his family member to New Hanover by helicopter, and a life was saved.

"We appreciate your efforts because it's always reassuring to the person making the call that the person on the other line has compassion, knowledge, and that calming ability when folks are in the worst situation they ever thought they'd find themselves in," Foster said.

Reporter Morgan Starling can be reached at

This article originally appeared on The Daily News: Onslow County 911 dispatchers speak on impact they have on others