Audrey Fraizer

Audrey Fraizer

Story Vault

By Audrey Fraizer

Nearly electrocuted

The precise application of CPR by following Pre-Arrival Instructions (PAIs) that EMD Tiffany Hotaling provided combined with rapid ambulance response are credited with saving the life of a 20-year-old who was nearly electrocuted at his job.

Hotaling, a Syracuse (N.Y.) Police Dept. dispatcher at the Onondaga County 9-1-1 center, received the 9-1-1 Dispatch Real Hero Award from the American Red Cross, Central New York Chapter.

Hotaling said she was flattered by the dual recognition, and the once-in-a-lifetime honor to walk across the stage in a line of 15 other individuals receiving awards for extraordinary efforts in emergency services.

Accolades aside, however, Hotaling’s dedicated to emergency communications. The awards were icing on the cake for the on-the-job opportunity, she said, to get a real sense of making a difference in a person’s life.

“We take a lot of calls and you never know when something like [saving a life] will happen,” Hotaling said. “This was incredible, not the accident, but the ability to help.”

Hotaling was on the phone for 7 minutes and 36 seconds giving CPR PAIs to the man’s co-worker during the July 3, 2013, call to report the potentially fatal accident. A young man, who was in the process of cutting down a tree, stepped onto an aluminum extension ladder that, unbeknownst to him and co-workers, was touching a live electric line.

The man was unconscious and not breathing when the call came in. Hotaling provided CPR instructions to a “very cool and collected” caller, who in turn relayed them step by step to a third person—the victim’s father—at the job site.

The patient made a full recovery.

Hotaling credits the training EMDs receive and the ability to remain calm that, in turn, reassures the caller during a traumatic event. She also praised the “amazing” ambulance crew and a caller who did exactly what she said to do.

“They [ambulance crew] continued CPR, and he came to just as the ambulance pulled into the hospital,” she said.

After seven years in emergency communications, few calls bring Hotaling to tears like this one did, she said. Her father and brother are in construction and not until the call ended did she let emotion almost get the best of her.

“It’s the same way about calls involving children,” Hotaling said. “There are just some calls that hit closer to home more than others. I’m extremely grateful for the way things turned out with this one.”

Baby delivery

A dispatch supervisor from Syracuse, N.Y., was also honored during the Red Cross awards presentation for her part in a medical emergency.

On Dec. 7, 2012, Rural Metro of Syracuse Dispatcher Cathy North provided PAIs for childbirth to a teacher assisting in an undeniably unexpected delivery.

According to the events—all happening within minutes—the woman was part of a larger group visiting a park when the baby decided it was time to arrive. Christopher Brooks, an assistant Head Start teacher and part of the same group, called 9-1-1, and under North’s guidance, provided aid, while in the meantime, three park employees rushed over to assist.

It was over almost as fast as it started.

The Rural Metro ambulance crew had pulled into the parkway when they were notified of the baby’s birth.

“The baby was out, and I had made sure the baby was breathing by the time they arrived,” North said. “It was fast.”

Park employees Sarah Kohler, John Moakler, and Liz Schmidt received “Above and Beyond” Award plaques from Rural Metro; the employees, Brooks, and North accepted Real Hero Awards for their roles in safely bringing the baby into the world under the most unusual circumstances.

The team, including the park employees, also received commendation awards from city and county officials.

This was not North’s first brush with the childbirth PAIs.

“We do quite a few deliveries,” she said. “Not every day but every few weeks. They seem to come in spurts.”

North has been with Rural Metro for 33 years, including 11 years on the road as a critical care technician and the past 22 in dispatch. She has used nearly every protocol in the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS) and the more common Chief Complaints many times over.

The variety and the unexpected, however, are North’s primary reasons for her long career in emergency communications.

“When I think I’ve seen it all, something else happens,” she said.

The Red Cross awards were presented on Dec. 4, 2013. γ