By You

They're in their late seventies, been together for forty plus years. One morning, he tells her he doesn't "feel right." A few hours go by, he gets worse, then gets so dizzy he falls. She calls 911, and when she finally gets to the fire department dispatcher tells him that she needs help. He asked the nature, and she says, "my husband isn't feeling well."

That could have been that, the dispatcher could have sent a rescue to the address to handle the situation. But that's not what happened. Not at all.

The person who answered the phone has answered thousands of similar ones. He heard something and instantly knew there was more to the story. He pressed. She told him he felt dizzy, and had fallen.

The dispatcher sent the troops. Upon arrival, Engine Company 11 found a man in cardiac arrest. With Rescue 1 four minutes out, the crew confirmed pulselessness and defibrillated twice before getting a rhythm back, then a pulse. An IV was established before the rescue arrived, 02 flowing and the man breathing on his own.

He regained consciousness two days later, and his wife was right there with him when he did.

The man hand delivered a letter of thanks to the station on the first anniversary of his second chance. He's loving life like never before, he says, appreciating the chance he was given. In his words, "by you."



  • Marc says:


  • Mr618 says:

    Cap, this is why everyone should learn CPR – the more people who know it, the more likely one is to survive. And if someone doesn’t want to do ventilations on a stranger — which is certainly understandable — at least learn how to do hands-only CPR (

  • Lynda M O says:

    I agree with Mr618-compressions alone can do the trick and no one gets barfed on…

    a much nicer experience for all of us.

  • Patrcia Blackman says:

    Isn’t it nice when someone you’ve helped expresses thanks like that? It doesn’t happen often enough. Roy Rogers’ wife Dale Evans once wrote a book titled “Angel Unaware.” It was about their little disabled daughter and how she changed their lives. She was , without knowing it, their “Angel Unaware.” So many people are just that, “unknowing angels” to so many people. I I have often heard EMTs and firefighters say “It’s my job.” Sure it is but it’s really your “calling.” It takes a special person to do that job. You are all “Angels Unaware.” I’m so glad that so many of you are my friends. Thanks you for all you do. Love, Pat.

  • Patricia Tyrrell says:

    Emergency communicators are one of the first lines of help, yet we are often overlooked because we are not physically on the scene giving assistance.

    Kudos to the emergency call taker for listening to his inner voice. I cannot ever discount that ‘hinky’ feeling I sometimes get when talking to someone in a crisis…a lot of times it accounts for nothing, but like this calltaker, it leads to further investigation and occasionally a saved life!

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Michael Morse

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I think there is room for all of us in the future of EMS. Just like not all nurses like the ER, not all paramedics only want to run the sickest patients. Personally, my favorite calls are MCIs, a close second is probably the little old lady low fall. We can specialize. If you don't…
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