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Two state radio dispatchers win 'stork pin' awards

Leanne Heslep
ND National Guard
Leanne Heslep

Two North Dakota State Radio dispatchers have been honored for helping callers during emergency baby deliveries.

Leanne Heslep was working March 3 at 11:50 am – when she received a 911 call from a husband on Standing Rock whose wife was in active labor. She determined, by timing the contractions, that delivery was imminent, and she helped the woman with breathing. The baby boy was born before an ambulance got there.

Heslep had only been a dispatcher for about six months.

"I was just a lot calmer than I expected," Heslep said. "It was a little fun to be able to see how the delivery process worked."

Heslep said she also works part time at the Sanford birth center.

"I had seen several deliveries before," Heslep said. "Being able to actually talk somebody through everything was a whole different experience, that I was really honored to be a part of."

The other dispatcher – Alexis Heilman – was working early in the morning March 31, when at 3:27 am, she received a 911 call concerning a woman in labor southwest of New Town. She coached a grandmother, who was with her, to help the woman. She gave birth at 3:42 am.

Heilman has been a dispatcher for five years.

"This is the very first time I've ever talked somebody through a birth," Heilman said. "I just followed my training, and focused on the mother and the to-be grandmother."

During a ceremony at Fraine Barracks in Bismarck, the two were awarded “stork pins” for their efforts.