Fearless Focus

Cynthia Murray

Cynthia Murray

Your Space

Natasha Bishop had her heart set for a career in dispatch, but it took more than heart to fulfill that goal.

After receiving her degree in criminal justice and applying for every open position, the third time was the charm. She stepped into the role of an EMD for the Houlton Regional Communications Center in Maine (USA), serving the large rural county of Aroostook and the highly populated capital city of Augusta, covering everything in between (e.g., cell phone calls; police, fire, and ambulance departments; forest rangers; game wardens; and other state agencies).  

After nearly three years in her role as an Emergency Dispatcher, Bishop became confident in her mission to “take the call, send help, and keep everyone safe,” offering a voice of reassurance through the routine calls of commuter collisions, abdominal pains, and falls.

However, on Sept. 22, 2022, her center received a call that deviated from that routine: A mother’s panicked voice told how her nine-year old daughter had just called her after her father had collapsed in their home. At first, emergency calltakers tried to relay questions and instructions through the mother at another location, but that led to greater confusion. The daughter was encouraged to call 911 directly. Bishop was soon connected to the small voice of a child.  

“The girl was incredible, so calm, open to direction, and responsive from the beginning,” Bishop said. “She didn’t miss a beat.” 

The father was initially unconscious but breathing, so after an ambulance had been sent, Bishop began guiding the girl through preparing the scene for responders (putting away the family dog) and providing support. However, during a routine check, the girl reported her father was no longer breathing.  


“Alright, we’re going to do CPR now,” instructed Bishop, going directly to compressions instructions. Bishop trusted the scripted instructions and gave them just as prompted—even for a 9-year-old doing CPR on her father.

To Bishop’s utter amazement, the girl did it all. “She probably didn’t understand the severity of the situation, which was to her benefit,” Bishop explained. As a mother herself, Bishop felt like she was talking to her own child, though she was amazed by the girl’s fearless focus: “She just got to work calmly with compressions right up until paramedics arrived. She’s a future first responder!” 

After the call ended, Bishop stepped out for a moment to manage her emotions. “It hits you all at once,” she said. “You start processing what just happened.” After Bishop returned, her supervisor told her the ambulance agency had reported the patient was alive and was most likely going to make it. Tears filled their eyes as they listened to the call again. “We couldn’t believe this kid,” Bishop said. “She had just saved her dad’s life.”  

Bishop said she hugged her own kids a little tighter after her shift that day. “I told them how I had a cool little girl on the phone today and how she saved her dad.” They asked her, “She didn’t cry at all? She must be pretty special!” to which Bishop replied, “She really is!” 

Bishop received a CPR Save Award from her communication center and a Special Award of Commendation for outstanding contribution and grateful appreciation from the men and women of the state police and citizens of Maine. Her awards hang in an honorary spot in her kitchen to serve as reminders of a life saved, but Bishop says she isn’t likely to forget. “It’s so rare and precious to handle a call of this severity and to have a happy ending.”