HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — A man found lying in the middle of a Holland street after suffering an apparent heart attack is alive thanks to the quick actions of a bystander and instructions from a 911 operator.
The call came in to Ottawa County 911 just before 11 a.m. on Oct. 29.
“Sir, are you alright? Sir,” the caller is heard saying before speaking to a 911 operator. “There’s a man on the ground.”
“I could tell by the panic in the guy’s voice, my caller, that something was wrong,” Ottawa County 911 dispatcher Megan Chapman later told News 8.
“Sir? I think he might not be alive,” the caller told 911.
Chapman wasn’t supposed to take calls that morning, but they were short on staff, so she used the console.
“Just happened to pick up the phone,” Chapman said. “You never know what you’re going to get.”
On the other end of the line was a good Samaritan and his wife who came upon a man lying on West 24th Street near Ottawa Avenue in Holland, unconscious and having a heart attack.
“He is lying on his face,” said the interlocutor. “Oh, he was making noise. What should I do?”
“Is he breathing?” Chapman asked the caller.
“I don’t think so,” said the interlocutor. “I don’t know.”
“He was nervous,” Chapman told News 8. “His wife was in the background of the call.” You can hear her… how elevated. I don’t want to say I’m screaming, but I’m very upset. They were in a kind of panic, which is understandable.”
It’s one thing to teach CPR using a dummy in the classroombut it’s quite another to teach CRP on the street with a victim dying in front of you.
But Chapman, who also works as a part-time firefighter, knows her stuff.
“I’ll tell you how to do chest compressions, okay? My partners are urging everyone to come, so we’re going to help them before everyone else gets there,” Chapman told a passerby. “Put your hand on the sternum in the center of his chest, right between the nipples. Put your other hand on it. We will pump the breasts hard and fast at least twice a second to a depth of about 2 inches.’
It didn’t take long for the unknown good Samaritans to catch on.
“We will go one, two, three, four. One, two, three, four, Chapman said to the man and heard him think to himself. “Keep up the pace. Good job.”
It was nearly five minutes from the start of the call before sirens could be heard racing to the scene.
“One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four,” could be heard as the Good Samaritan continued CPR on the unidentified victim.
“I hear them arriving on the scene, but I keep walking until they come and capture me. ok? Just keep going. Don’t stop, Chapman told the man.
Moments later, Dutch firefighters arrived with an automatic defibrillator and took over the care of the Good Samaritan, whose accelerated CPR course likely saved the man’s life.
These things happen to dispatchers more often than you think. The efforts of firefighters, police and EMS are often exposed for public scrutiny: but not 911 dispatchers.
And once the call is over, they rarely realize the effect of their efforts.
“Sometimes we don’t even get a result. That is why they say that our work is adrenaline. We’re in here, then they’re putting us down,” Chapman said.
But not this time.
A Dutch police officer told Chapman that the heart attack victim had been taken to hospital in serious condition and was recovering and thanked everyone involved.
Chapman’s colleagues honored her with the Life Saver Award this week.
“It hits the heart. That’s good. And it’s good that we are recognized as a group. A lot of people don’t look at us as a first responder, but we’re the first on that phone,” Chapman said.
Ottawa 911 Dispatch is looking for dispatchers. If you’re interested in learning more, go to occda.org.