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Yarmouth dispatcher helps family save choking baby

A quick-thinking 911 dispatcher helped a Cape Cod family save their 3-month-old baby after the infant choked on his food Tuesday morning.

The baby’s grandmother, aunt, and cousin were feeding the baby in the family’s home in Yarmouth at about 9:30 a.m. when he began to choke, said Yarmouth fire alarm operator Rachelle Jessop, who answered their panicked 911 call.

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Within seconds, Jessop had dispatched an ambulance to the family’s address. She also delivered instructions on how to save the child, Acting Deputy Fire Chief Jon Sawyer said in a statement.

“A lot of time people don’t know what they’re doing, so we walk them through it,” Jessop, 38, said Wednesday during a telephone interview.

Jessop, of Yarmouth, has been a certified emergency medical dispatcher for the Fire Department for 14 years. She gave instructions to the baby’s cousin on how to administer chest compressions and rescue breaths.

“After she returned to chest compressions again, I could hear a bit of noise in the background and asked them to hold the baby up to the phone,” Jessop said.

After two more breaths, the baby began to make noises and attempted to cry, she said.

“That’s a really good sign, and you did a great job,” Jessop can be heard saying in a recording of the 911 call.

She asked the cousin to lay the baby on his side in case he choked again. Jessop ended the call once an ambulance arrived, exactly 4 minutes and 12 seconds after the phone had rung, the statement said.

The baby was transported to Cape Cod Hospital for treatment and is now doing well, Jessop said. Police did not release the names of the family members.

“I got to meet the baby when the grandma brought him in today, and it was only second best to holding my own kids,” Jessop said. “I’ve never had that feeling before, and I hope he does really well. He’s such a cutie.”

Over more than a decade of answering 911 calls, Jessop has provided medical assistance for people who at times could not be saved in time.

“It’s definitely sad when you lose someone, of course, but it’s the job that I chose,” Jessop said. “You learn how to cope, and I work with great people that help me get through it.”

But Tuesday’s morning call was a success. “The 911 call lasted only 4 minutes and 12 seconds, but anyone who has been through this type of call will tell you that it feels much longer,” Sawyer said.

He credited the successful rescue to Jessop’s “demeanor, ability to stay calm, and rapid dispatching skill.”

“I couldn’t be prouder of her actions,” he said.

Catalina Gaitan can be reached at catalina.gaitan@globe.com.
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