First But Not Last

Audrey Fraizer

Audrey Fraizer

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Nothing beats first. First date. First car. First job. First home run at bat.

First life saved using Dispatch-Directed CPR instructions and the Medical Priority Dispatch System™ (MPDS®).

“Very exciting,” was the exact understated way EMD Justin King described the experience. “I was extremely happy to help save the man’s life.”

Understatement because as Jessica Mayfield, Director, Benton County Central Dispatch, Warsaw, Missouri (USA), relayed the event, “Justin called right after he got off the phone,” she said. “I wish I could have been there.”

Mayfield was away from her desk when King called her on July 14. In fact, she was 1,470 miles away attending the NAVIGATOR 2021 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada (USA). She stepped out of the session she was attending to take the call and returned to her seat on cloud nine. The MPDS went live at the center on June 8, a transition she insisted upon to switch from a formerly used dispatch system.

Mayfield had worked with the MPDS as Assistant Director of the Polk County Central Dispatch, Bolivar, Missouri (USA). She accepted the position at Benton County Central Dispatch in October 2020. “I wanted the right tools to do the job, but the tools weren’t there,” she said. “I knew changing the EMD protocols was one of the first places I wanted to improve upon.”

Now back to King and the instructions that resulted in saving a man’s life.

The female caller wanted an ambulance to check out her husband’s condition. He was reportedly feeling faint and there was a tightness in his chest that came on after a day in their boat on the lake. He was resting in the car and moments later, he passed out. His breathing was agonal, as verified by the MPDS Breathing Verification Diagnostic Tool. CPR instructions commenced. The ambulance arrived. Paramedics continued compressions until a medical helicopter picked up the patient from the designated landing zone.

“She was a good caller,” King said. “She cooperated. She wasn't anxious and followed instructions.”

The man survived. He walked out of the hospital. King called Mayfield. He went home and told his wife and anybody who would listen about the call. “I had a very good day,” he said.

King was not new to the MPDS. He was fluent in ProQA® from his previous emergency dispatch position in neighboring Morgan County. Others at Benton County 911 unfamiliar with the MPDS, however, were hesitant, he said. But that didn’t last long, particularly after King’s CPR save. “I told them, ‘Stick with it,’ and once they learned how to use it, they really liked it. They’re no longer sitting there wondering what to ask next. They have the Protocol guiding them in the call.”

King transferred into emergency communications in May 2019. He was a Morgan County volunteer firefighter and now volunteers for the Benton County Fire Department. He provided CPR many times during his 23 years in the fire service. He decided to try dispatch because, he said, helping people in the community is rewarding, especially during an incident that could be the worst moment of the caller’s life.

“I’m able to help get the person through what’s going on,” he said. “Not everybody gets to do that. It gets in your blood.”

Mayfield is elated that MPDS is off to a great start. She framed their EMD certifications. She’s ordering plaques to create a Wall of Life in recognition of lifesaving emergency dispatchers. King will be the first so honored.

When starting her career in 2009, Mayfield had no idea it’s where she would want to stay. “Once bitten by the dispatch bug, it’s hard to leave,” she said. “I love helping the community and mentoring my staff. 911 isn’t just a job for me, it’s my passion.”

Benton County is in the west central part of Missouri. Situated between Truman Lake and Lake of the Ozarks, the county spans 753 square miles. Benton County Central Dispatch currently has 16 employees. They serve all of Benton County and dispatch for all three disciplines: police, fire, and EMS.