When a newborn stops breathing, a 911 dispatcher puts RQI-T to the test


A newborn in distress, a language barrier and a frantic plea for help. As a 911 dispatcher, Alice shows up for each shift at the North Texas Emergency Communications Center (NTECC) never knowing what types of calls may come her way.

But on this particular day, a recent RQI Telecommunicator Training Program (RQI-T) session would play a huge role in saving a three-day-old baby’s life. RQI-T is a low-dose, high-frequency, blended learning and quality improvement program from RQI Partners that helps telecommunicators — the first, first responders — deliver effective, instinctual telephone CPR instruction to improve survival from cardiac arrest.

Recalls Alice, “What I find so interesting about that day is that I had the RQI-T session that morning, prior to the call. And it didn’t go smoothly. There were several starts and stops, and I had a little bit of equipment difficulty. But my T-CPR coach was understanding, calming and supportive.”

It wasn’t long after her RQI-T session that she was back on the floor taking calls. That’s when a desperate mother came on the line, pleading for help when her baby stopped breathing.

“The caller was a Spanish speaker,” she recounts. “So we immediately had to connect with the language line. The mother explained that the baby wasn’t breathing and that she was turning purple. At that moment, all I cared about was doing what I needed to do to help save this child.”

Timing is everything

Says Alice, “I felt incredibly grateful that I had just finished the session literally hours before this call came through. It made it so much easier and more comfortable to navigate. I had to go through the language line, through the wife and to the husband who was actually performing the CPR on the baby.”

Having worked for years in the medical field, Alice had regular CPR training. At one point in her career, she was even a CPR instructor. But she credits her RQI-T instructor for helping her take her skills to the next level.

“She was so encouraging and informative. This program is very much a collaborative, supportive effort. By the time I finished, I felt good about what I had learned and what I could bring to real-world situations going forward.”

And the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

Adds Alice, “All the elements worked together for this newborn baby to be alive. From an RQI-T session that very morning to the language line being right on cue to the fire department’s arrival mid-CPR, it was amazing. When I learned later on that the baby began breathing, I was elated. I was on an adrenaline high for the rest of the day.”

Mastery learning leads to better outcomes

NTECC conducts its own internal quality improvement on CPR calls. When the team decided to seek out more specialized training and skills practice, they implemented RQI-T in October 2020 to enhance their efforts. In the short time that they’ve used the program, NTECC has noticed a marked impact on its dispatchers, instilling more confidence and greater comfortability in their T-CPR skills.

For dispatchers like Alice, the program was instrumental in saving a baby’s life one afternoon. Tomorrow, it just might mean the difference between life and death for another family.

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