Around 3:33 p.m. Flagler County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) Communications Specialist McKenzie Davis answered a call from a mother stating that her 6-month old child was not breathing. The mother was frantic and Davis worked to calm her down while getting her prepared to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to the infant. Davis walked the mother through CPR instructions and counted aloud over the phone to ensure the compressions were being done at the proper speed. After a full round of CPR, the baby began breathing and moving again. The baby was transported to a children’s hospital for further observation.
Almost exactly an hour later, at 4:38 p.m., Davis answered another 9-1-1 call where a woman reported that her 71-year-old husband was in the pool and was not breathing. Davis instructed the caller to get the man out of the water, which was accomplished by family members on scene. Since no one on scene was trained to do CPR, Davis told the caller to put the phone on speaker so that Davis could provide instructions.
Davis gave instructions and counted aloud while the family took turns performing compressions. Davis continued instructions until deputies arrived on scene. Deputy Strack then took over CPR while Deputy Denker attached his automated external defibrillator (AED) to the patient, which advised a shock was not needed. Paramedics arrived on scene and indicated that the patient had a strong pulse and he was transported to the hospital by ambulance. The patient is expected to fully recover.
“9-1-1 is the number you call in your darkest hour and it is the voice on the other end of the line that can help you through whatever situation you are facing,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “In these cases, McKenzie was able to not only calm the callers down enough to listen to the instructions, but she was also able to count with them to ensure they were doing compressions as often as required. Already this year she has helped save four lives. She is a true hero and a great partner with our deputies in the field.”
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Just one month ago, on August 5, Davis answered a 9-1-1 call from a mother stating that her one-and-a-half year old daughter was having a seizure and stopped breathing. Davis provided CPR instructions to the parents and counted aloud to make sure the compressions were done accurately. After a round of compressions, the baby spit up and began breathing again. First responders arrived on scene and examined the child to make sure she was okay.
The FCSO Communications Center is an accredited 9-1-1 center and serves as the county-wide Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for all Emergency 9-1-1 calls. The Center answers all emergency and non-emergency phone calls and provides dispatch services for the Sheriff’s Office, the cities of Bunnell and Flagler Beach Police Departments, Flagler County Fire/Rescue, City of Palm Coast Fire Department, and the Flagler Beach Fire Department.
This year the Communications Center starting tracking lives saved by dispatchers on the “Tree of Life” painted on a wall of the center. Each dispatcher’s name is written on a leaf and a heart is added for every life saved. The Tree of Life is quickly filling up as 9-1-1 dispatchers handle emergency calls and continue to save lives.
In June, Communication Specialist Joana De Guzman received a Life-Saving Award for walking a caller through CPR instructions when their family member stopped breathing. Although the tree began in 2020, many other 9-1-1 dispatchers have made a difference by providing life-saving instructions prior to the tree. In 2019, Communications Specialist Candice Cole provided CPR instructions to a caller who wasn’t sure if his neighbor was breathing or not. Cole asked for the caller to describe the breathing and was able to determine that it was agonal, and quickly provided CPR instructions resulting in saving the patient’s life.
The hearts on the Tree of Life not only represents when a 9-1-1 dispatcher saves a life, but also when they assist in bringing life into the world. Communications Supervisor Amy Sisti received a heart for providing instructions to a father to help deliver his baby boy. “These are just a few examples of the amazing work that our 9-1-1 dispatchers do to help our community,” Sheriff Staly added.