911 operator saved stroke victim with eight-hour call
Nikhil Kumar is The Independent's New York correspondent. He was formerly assistant editor on the foreign desk and has also done a variety of jobs on the city desk, where he wrote about markets, commodities and other business and economics topics.
Sunday 16 June 2013
When Mary Thomas, a stroke victim, rang the emergency services last week, her speech was so badly slurred the operator at the other end of the line struggled to note her location.
Now, Joann Hilman-Payne is being hailed as a heroine after staying on the phone with Ms Thomas for nearly eight hours as rescuers tracked her down.
Ms Thomas called the emergency services at around 1pm on Monday.
Rescuers first hurried to an address based on data from a mobile phone tower. But when she was not found at the location, Ms Hilman-Payne continued talking to the stroke victim to keep her conscious.
Meanwhile her boss, Lieutenant Arlene Simmons, contacted the fire marshall’s office to help locate Ms Thomas. Emergency Medical Dispatch Captain Philip Weiss also drafted in the help of the police and the Verizon Wireless mobile phone company. He began calling a list of people with the same name as Ms Thomas.
She was only found at about 8.30pm, after Verizon tracked Ms Thomas’s mobile phone signal. It turned out she was a housekeeper who fell ill while working at someone else’s apartment.
She was rushed to hospital for intensive care treatment.
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