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'Stay on the line': 911 dispatcher helps teacher save students life

'Stay on the line': 911 dispatcher helps teacher save students life
From CBC - April 16, 2018

"Hello, B.C. Ambulance here."

Dispatcher Colin Terry remembers the warm sunny day last year when he took the call.

"Even before I knew what was going on, I knew in her voice this was going to be something bad."

Elementary school teacher Wendy Swain had taken her students out for a recess break. The children were playing, when one suddenly fell to the ground.

"I hustled over and what I saw was my student looking very dead," said Swain.

The student, whose identity and school arenot being revealedfor privacy reasons, had gone into sudden cardiac arrest.

"You are cutting in and out, but I already have help started," Terrysaid to Swain during the 10-minute 911call.

Advocating for defibrillators

The stricken childwould survive, thanks to Swain and Terry's efforts.

Despite the positive outcome, Swain believes she could have helped the student earlier had the school had an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Defibrillatorsare portable electronic devices that automaticallydiagnose life-threateningcardiacarrhythmiasand sendelectric shocks through the chest wall of a person whose heart has stopped beating.

"If they had the defibrillator in the three to four minutes I sent for it, [the child] would have been revived in half the time," said Swain.

Health officials say every second counts after a cardiac arrest.

Since the incident, Swain has tried to persuade the Vancouver School Board to get automated external defibrillators at all its schools.

Reliving the call

Swain and Terry met for the first time last week since thestudent collapsed,and listened to the call together at the B.C. Ambulance dispatch centre.

"Because the [cellphone] connection was so poor, I told Wendy, that if I ask her a question, I wanted her to say every answer twice. So, I would havetwice the chance of understanding what was happening," said Terry.

'I will tell you exactly what to do next'

Notlegislated or recommended

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