911 dispatcher helps deliver baby over the phone in Muscatine

MUSCATINE, Iowa-- A 911 dispatcher got what might be a once-in-a-lifetime call early Wednesday morning.

Ben Sharpe says he answered the phone at Muscatine County Joint Communications Center at 3:41 a.m. Lee Walker was on the other end.

"I answered it like any other 911 call," Sharpe recalls. "But [Lee] immediately said, 'I think my wife is having a baby.'"

The Walkers had been at the hospital earlier that night because Kala Walker was having contractions. But when she wasn't dilating, they decided to go back home.

"The doctor said if I'm not dilating, that he'd probably send me home," Kala says, "which I was okay with because I'd rather be at home where I'm more comfortable."

About an hour and a half later, they were home.

"And I stood up and I had a contraction, and I was like, 'I feel like I gotta push,'" Kala says.

Lee was on the phone with a nurse. He hung up and called 911.

"[Lee] says, 'I think her water just broke,'" Sharpe says. "And at that point, it's really hit that we're going to do this right here."

Sharpe walked Lee through how to deliver the baby, grabbing towels, keeping her calm and getting ready to catch the newborn.

"It felt like the longest call," Sharpe says. "It what pretty fast, but it was just one thing after the next."

The call lasted less than five minutes. That's when baby Kalee came into the world and the EMTs arrived.

"The last thing I said was, 'Congratulations,'" Sharpe says. "And just to be able to hear the baby crying on the other end... we disconnected and this feeling of joy... it just felt great."

The Walkers were back at the hospital Wednesday morning and came home later this week.

"All and all, [Sharpe] was a big help and I wouldn't have been able to do it without him," Lee says.

"Ben walked [Lee] through it all," Kala says. "He was a really big help. Having [Lee] be so calmed helped me stay a lot more calmer. It all happened in my bathroom on the bathroom floor."

Sharpe says he's trained to respond to all kinds of emergencies.

"We don't really ever get to use our training for something like this," Sharpe says. "It's pretty rare for something like this to happen."

He says this is a call he'll never forget, and it's a special story the Walkers will someday get to tell their daughter.

"She'll have this big story that she'll carry with her for her entire life," Lee says. "It's something special."

The Muscom manager, Beverly Griffith, says no one has ever delivered a baby over the phone during her 25 years on the job.