Philadelphia has a new hero, 911 operator Elyce Rivera.
Rivera went into overdrive when she received a distress call from Charlotte Fatoma, who unexpectedly went into labor while driving herself to the hospital last month.
Not even a month into the job, Rivera guided Fatoma through the delivery on the side of the highway, and she gave birth to the baby in her car.
During a meeting between the two, Fatoma informed her that she had named the baby Elizabeth Elyce in honor of Rivera and then proceeded to ask Rivera if she would be willing to be the baby’s godmother, to which Rivera happily accepted.
Rivera received the call from Fatoma as she was wrapping up her shift.
She said, “When that call came in, I thought she was in a car accident because she was panicking and she was scared.”
Prior to the call, Fatoma, a mother of two, was working her job as a nurse at a local assisted living facility when she began to experience contractions. Believing she had time to make it to her doctor at the hospital, she left work early believing she could get to the hospital 40 minutes away.
“Once I hit the exit, traffic was so long,” she said. “I’m like, “Oh my god, I’m never going to make it there.”
As traffic reached a standstill, Fatoma’s contractions were getting closer and closer, prompting her to dial 911.
“She’s just screaming,” Fatoma said. “So what I told Charlotte was that everything that she’s feeling, her baby is feeling. And I didn’t want her baby to go into distress, so that’s why I kept telling her, ‘Just take deep breaths.’”
“Contractions were coming now two minutes apart, and it was to a point that I couldn’t bear it anymore,” Fatoma said. “And she was very calm. So that kept me calm.”
Instructing Fatoma to pull over to the side of the road, Rivera began giving Fatoma instructions on how she was to deliver the baby.
“She told me to position myself in the car, move the seat back, push yourself all the way to the edge of the chair, put your legs up, prop yourself, and make a way for that baby,” said Fatoma.
Rivera helped keep Fatoma calm while directing EMS to her location. By the time the ambulance had arrived, Rivera recalls being able to hear the baby cry in the background.
“I felt very happy. I felt very emotional. So I had to lift my mic up. My eyes got watery,” Rivera said about the experience.
Fatoma said, “Elyce, the 911 operator, she is an angel in disguise. She was wonderful. She treated me so kind…We started up as strangers and now we’re connected forever.”