A 911 operator in Philadelphia and the woman she coached through childbirth over the phone met for the first time Tuesday on TODAY.
Charlotte Fatoma went into labor while driving herself to the hospital last month, prompting her to call 911, where dispatcher Elyce Rivera — only four weeks into her job — picked up the phone. Rivera guided Fatoma through the delivery as she sat in the car on the side of the highway.
When they finally met, Fatoma said she named the baby Elizabeth Elyce in honor of Rivera and then asked if she would like to be the baby’s godmother. She happily accepted the offer.
Their unlikely relationship began when Fatoma called 911 as Rivera was wrapping up her day.
“When that call came in, I thought she was in a car accident because she was panicking and she was scared,” she told TODAY.
Shortly before the call, Fatoma, who was nine months pregnant and already the mother of two other kids, was working her job as a nurse at an assisted living facility when the contractions began. She thought she had time to go to the hospital, which was 40 minutes away.
“Once I hit the exit, traffic was so long,” she told TODAY. “I’m like, “Oh my god, I’m never going to make it there.”
Traffic came to a standstill and the contractions were getting closer, so Fatuma dialed 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.”
Rivera told Fatoma to pull over and get ready 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,” Fatoma said.
Rivera told Fatoma she had to get the baby out and over the phone she could hear the baby cry. An ambulance then arrived on the scene just as Fatoma welcomed her healthy baby daughter on Interstate 476.
“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.
It marked the first time Rivera helped deliver a baby over 911 and Fatoma is grateful for her efforts.
“Elyce, the 911 operator, she is an angel in disguise. She was wonderful. She treated me so kind,” she said.
“We started up as strangers and now we’re connected forever,” she added.