ON THE ROAD
June 13, 2014
The prelude to announcing Bryan Anta as the 2014 Dispatcher of the Year had many in the audience scratching their heads.
It’s not that Anta fell short of making significant contributions to the Academy’s values and mission, as required by the award, but there were some bewildered expressions at the broad array from which he drew his experience.
Anta’s high-profile cases included coordinating response following a tornado at Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tenn.), helping an anxious mom find her son at the 2013 Boston Marathon, and giving Pre-Arrival Instructions (PAIs) to assist a woman having an asthma attack on the side of the road somewhere between Massachusetts and the border of North Carolina and Tennessee.
How does one person connect with so many callers in such a short period of time despite a calling card outside of the U.S.?
The answer lies in the location of his connection. Anta is an emergency adviser for OnStar, an in-vehicle security and navigational system that, in 2013, became an Academy Medical Accredited Center of Excellence (ACE).
“Bryan does an excellent job of transporting himself into the car,” said IAED™ Associate Director Carlynn Page, who presented the award.
Anta is one among 250 emergency medical dispatchers with OnStar processing an average of 1,200 calls a month requiring the use of the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS). Total call volume throughout the OnStar service area (seven million subscribers in the U.S., Canada, China, and Mexico) averages about five million per year.
He works out of OnStar’s Oshawa call center in Ontario, Canada.
Anta, who has been with OnStar four years in May, is a former customer service representative for businesses that did not require emergency services. The ability to “engage” his customers and an opportunity to help someone forced his hand. The knack to think in the moment, he said, is a plus recognized in an environment in which calls are made by a push of a button in an OnStar subscriber’s vehicle.
The calls cited at NAVIGATOR showed Anta’s commitment and the reason behind his break from the call center to accept the award and visit Walt Disney World Resort.
“I liked the job from the start,” he said.
Anta’s call, using “Honk once for ‘yes’ and twice for ‘no’” instructions, was crucial for a woman who couldn’t speak because of a serious asthma attack on the side of the road. The woman—on her way to the hospital with her 3-year-old daughter at the first sign of the attack—had called her mother by cellphone and, also, pressed the OnStar button for emergency assistance.
While another adviser contacted first responders, Anta stayed on the line to provide emergency instructions to the woman’s mother since the woman’s asthma attack made direct communication difficult.
Even though the connection was good, the situation inside the car—a woman gasping for air and a frightened, crying child—made it impossible for Anta to determine what was going on at the scene. He heard the sound of a car honk.
“She honked and then I knew exactly what to do,” he said.
His “think in the moment” reaction without diverging from Key Questions put Anta on OnStar’s nomination list, said Grant Heaslip, the OnStar director of operations at the Oshawa call center.
“Bryan does things others might think about after the fact,” Heaslip said. “He’s dedicated to the core and does everything above and beyond.”
In addition to assisting in an asthmatic emergency, Anta has assisted with a number of other notable emergency calls during the past year.
He answered a call from an anxious mother trying to find her son following explosions near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Anta navigated her to the interstate closest to where her son had arranged to meet her after completing the 26.2-mile run.
During another call, Anta relayed CPR instructions to a woman whose husband suffered a severe heart attack in the vehicle. The man has since recovered. A small portion of the call was played during NAVIGATOR’s Opening Session.
In 2012, Anta directed first responders to a campground made inaccessible by fallen trees following severe thunderstorms at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. OnStar subscriber Carole Cooper initiated the call and volunteered the use of her Chevrolet Tahoe for a makeshift public safety communication center giving rescue workers access to the OnStar connection for communicating with other emergency personnel. Anta stayed on the call for nearly four hours.
OnStar Medical Director Dr. Paul Stiegler said Anta represents the best of what the EMD job is all about.
“He’s incredibly focused on the scene,” Stiegler said. “He’s caring and gets to the core of the situation.”
Anta chalks it up to luck and job satisfaction.
“The attention is an honor,” Anta said. “But the amazing part is being here around so many people who continue to protect us all.”