By Jordan Maxwell
PRIDE Contributing Writer
An expecting mother is in an emergency situation, dealing with a breech birth that was coming too early in the back of a 2011 Chevrolet Silverado in Kite, Georgia.
Enter Letisha Ghanbari, an emergency advisor with OnStar’s Contact Center in Oshawa, Ontario. Ghanbari relayed EMD instructions she learned in training to Robin Archer, the baby’s grandmother, with the mother going into labour.
When paramedics arrived on scene they had to stop the delivery as it was too early in the pregnancy. The baby boy was born a few weeks later on July 2, 2015.
“OnStar saved the baby’s life,” said Archer. “He wouldn’t have survived without the OnStar advisor.”
The story represents what can be a typical day for Ghanbari at her job at OnStar, where she routinely deals with emergency situations some people deal with when they’re on the road.
Born in Toronto to Jamaican parents, Ghanbari has two children, Kashis, 5, and Persia, 2 (soon to be 3 in July).
Her efforts, and dedication to helping people, were recently recognized, earning her the honour of the 2016 Dispatcher of the Year by the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch™ (IAED™).
The Dispatcher of the Year is awarded annually to a dispatcher whose personal actions made the most significant contribution to further the values and mission of the IAED.
“I was so excited to hear that I won, I couldn’t believe it,” Ghanbari told Pride News Magazine in a telephone interview. “I just felt joy and a lot of excitement. Our job can be nerve racking but people trust us to be calm and we’re trained to help people in emergency situations.”
And Ghanbari’s mother, Jackie Salmon, gushes with pride when talking about her daughter’s honour: “When something so wonderful happens to our children, it just makes you feel good as a parent. I am so proud of her and pray for many blessings for her future.”
Ghanbari has been a part of the OnStar team for several years and has developed into one of the company’s brightest and rising stars.
Her supervisor, Charlene Poranganel, Business Leader of Emergency Services at OnStar, said as much in an interview with Pride News Magazine.
“She’s a superstar,” Poranganel said. “She brings the spirit to the team every day. She’s a cheerleader and has a caring heart on every call. She helps everyone when they’re the most vulnerable and serves a calming presence for emergency callers and some of our staff too. She’s awesome.”
Ghanbari also won the award for a second situation involving another emergency child-birthing event.
Roland Jacobsmeyer, who lives in Missouri, was visiting his daughter, Julia Sisler, in Rhode Island.
Sisler was nearing the end of her pregnancy and her husband was away in the Navy, so she asked her father to come stay with her.
Not long after he arrived, his daughter went into labour. Almost immediately after departing for the hospital, he had to pull over and help deliver the baby.
After Ghanbari remotely-assisted Jacobsmeyer with the delivery of a healthy baby boy, the father-daughter duo realized they had nothing to tie off the umbilical cord. With no string or shoelace in sight, Ghanbari suggested using a cellphone charger cord, which was within reach and worked efficiently for cutting the umbilical cord.
“I’ll never own a vehicle without OnStar,” said Jacobsmeyer. “I live in a farming area where cell phones don’t often work, but OnStar does. I wish they made OnStar for my tractor.”
Ghanbari, who suffered through multiple emotionally painful miscarriages before she ultimately had her first child, says she understands, and personalizes with, what these mothers are going through when they are in emergency situations.
“No matter what’s going on in your life, the biggest moment will always be having children,” said Ghanbari, who is just the second OnStar advisor to win the Dispatcher of the Year award — both are based in the Oshawa Contact Center in Canada.
“It changes your life in ways you can’t imagine and, for me, who struggled to have children early on, it’s personal. It’s bigger than yourself and that’s one of the perks of the job – to be able to help expecting mothers bring their children into the world,” she added.