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Rockdale E911 operator Chris Morris

CONYERS — 911 operators are trained to deal with life or death situations, but last Sunday afternoon, Rockdale County 911 Operator Chris Morris helped bring a new life into being. Morris instructed a grandmother in delivering her granddaughter in a car on the side of U.S. Interstate 20 West.

Morris, who lives in Newton County, has been a 911 operator for almost eight years. He started out with DeKalb County for about a year, then joined the Rockdale County E911 Department.

Last Sunday afternoon, Morris was transferred a call from Newton County 911.

“Their dispatcher gave me a call of a lady traveling down I-20 from their jurisdiction trying to get to Piedmont Rockdale Hospital,” said Morris. “She said her daughter was in labor, about 37 weeks pregnant. I could hear the daughter in distress in the back, so I knew it was getting close. She said the contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart, but she was still a good distance away.

“I told her as soon as she got into the county, I’d have paramedics meet her on Salem Road so they could take over and get her daughter to the hospital.”

Morris said he heard the daughter start screaming more and heard the grandmother say that the baby’s head was crowning, and he knew it was getting serious.

“I was trying to get her to pull over, but she kept driving,” he said. “She said the water had broken, and when she said that I told her she had to pull over. She had just gotten to Salem Road and pulled over and stopped on the exit ramp.

“She got in the backseat with her daughter. The daughter was pushing and the baby was crowning, so she was coming out. I gave her instructions on what to do, and the baby finally came out. I told her about how to embrace the baby and not drop it, wrapping it in whatever they had in the vehicle and cleaning off the face and nose.”

At that moment the paramedics arrived and took over, transporting the new mother and her baby to Rockdale Medical Center.

Morris said he spoke to the grandmother later that day.

“I spoke with the mother about 7:15 that evening and she said the baby and her daughter were doing fine,” said Morris. “The baby weighed a little over 5 pounds and she said everything was OK with no complications. It was a girl.”

Morris said he has had similar calls in the past, but that the paramedics always got there in time to take over, so this was his first actual delivery.

“It felt really good,” he said. “I was definitely nervous on the inside — I didn’t want her to know that — but I was definitely nervous.”

Morris also credits his fellow operators on shift 1A — the “best shift of all,” according to him.

“It was definitely a team effort,” he said. “Especially with calls like this, it has to be a team effort. As I was giving her instructions, they were speaking with the paramedics as well as the police. They were getting everybody in place to be where they needed to be. Definitely kudos to my shift.”

Rockdale County is looking for a few more good men and women to be 911 operators. Anyone interested can fill out an application at www.rockdalecountyga.gov, or get in contact with Training Supervisor Octavia Stanford directly for more information at 770-278-8426.

Senior Reporter

Born and raised in Decatur, Ga. Graduated from Shorter College in Rome, Ga. in 1979 with B.A. in Communications. Worked in community newspapers for 26 years. Started at Rockdale Citizen/Newton Citizen in January 2016.