It was the voice on the other end of the phone that kept Neysan Sturdivant calm on the night of Sept. 4 after his wife, sitting next to him, yelled, "Stop the car!"
In a second, the Severn couple's minivan was on the side of Route 32 in the darkness. Sturdivant's wife, Gillian, was giving birth, minutes away from Howard County General Hospital. He ran to her side of the vehicle and opened the door to help — but didn't know what to do. He asked 911 for help.
"I had the phone in my ear," Neysan Sturdivant recalled, saying that most of what immediately followed "is a blur."
On Wednesday night, the couple met the woman who talked him through the unexpectedly speedy roadside delivery of Lua Adele. The Howard County fire department held its annual awards ceremony and reunited more than a dozen rescuers with the people they'd helped at critical moments.
"It was reassuring to have someone there who knew what to do tell you what to do," Neysan Sturdivant said.
For Sturdivant, that someone was Howard County dispatcher Maya Kelly, calmly going through the computerized questions and instructions for a baby delivery and reminding him that police and an ambulance were on the way. The couple were effusive in their thanks.
"This is awesome. She's adorable," Kelly said, as Lua bounced from parent to parent, all the while squealing and grinning at Kelly.
"I didn't have to do much but try to keep him calm," Kelly said of her second delivery by phone. "It's kind of part of the job to stay calm and do the job. He seemed a little bit nervous at first."
Neysan Sturdivant did recall the voice on the phone telling him to grab whatever he could to help him hold the emerging infant.
"My mom, she threw towels in my hand as we left the house," Gillian Sturdivant said. So fast was the delivery that "we didn't even get the seat belt off," she added.
Neysan Sturdivant remembered Kelly asking him if he could see the baby's head, and his reply: "The baby's coming, the baby's here!"
"She kind of popped into my hands. The main thought in my head was, 'If I drop this baby, [Gillian] will never forgive me.'"
The dispatcher told him how to tie the umbilical cord — he grabbed a ribbon — clear the newborn's mouth, and place the baby on her mother. The ambulance arrived minutes later.
"I heard her crying," Kelly said, noting it's the kind of call that boosts spirits among dispatchers. "Everyone kind of clapped and cheered, and said, 'Find out what the baby's name is.'"
Kelly then typed out the message: "Lua Adele has been born."
"That's a good call," she said.
Others in the department received awards for rescues and other achievements.
They included the team that revived Bryan Monti, 52, when he collapsed over his steering wheel as he left a family party in Scaggsville celebrating a baptism. The accountant made the trip from his Long Island, N.Y., home because he wanted to shake the hands of the firefighters and paramedics who came to his aid April 2 last year.
Rescuers said they arrived at the scene to see Monti's nephew — Howard County police Cpl. Pete Monti — and brother performing CPR in the street. Pete Monti instinctively grabbed the first firefighter he saw — and locked eyes with Lt. Stanley Wurzburger III, with whom he'd played lacrosse more than a decade ago.
Bryan Monti "didn't have a pulse and he wasn't breathing," said Wurzburger.
"I wasn't breathing? I was out?" Bryan Monti asked.
"Yeah, you were lights out," Wurzburger replied.
The crew restarted his heart more than once before getting him to Howard County General Hospital. From there, Monti was flown to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he woke up nine days later and spent a month in treatment.
"You guys are top of the line," Monti said.