A national award goes to a Southern Tier dispatcher. Jeffrey Harter was named the winner of the Smart Telecommunicator Award on Monday for a 911 call he took last June. Our Elyse Mickalonis brings us the incredible story about how this Sherburne man saved the life of a stranger.
NORWICH, N.Y. -- Jeff Harter, 35, of Sherburne, has been a dispatcher for about six years. But he never thought the 911 call he answered last June would draw him national attention.
"There was three of us working and we were having a good time handling things when the call came in, we knew it was going to be a major incident,” said Jeffrey Harter, Public Safety Dispatcher.
“911 what's the address of your emergency?”
“My daughter is choking on a piece of hot dog.”
“How old is she?”
This is only a small portion of the call between Harter and the mother of a 17-year-old disabled girl who was choking.
"She's turning blue. She’s turning blue."
"I need you to calm down. OK?"
"They attempted the Heimlich and got concerned when she became less alert,” said Harter.
911 dispatchers are trained in something called emergency medical dispatch. The very training Harter used to assist the girl's family in saving her life.
"We learn how to give CPR instructions over the phone, choking instructions over the phone and pregnancy instructions over the phone,” said Harter.
While he was helping the family, another dispatcher was sending an ambulance to the home. But before paramedics arrived, Harter says something amazing happened.
"She took a breath,” said Harter.
"You too sir, can I get your first name?"
"My name is Jeff."
Little did Harter know that his coworkers would soon nominate him for the Smart Telecommunicator Award.
"Jeff was so humble. He hadn't said anything, but when you hear the tape, it sends chills up your spine," said A. Wesley Jones, Chief Dispatcher.
Evilee Ebb, Rave Mobile Safety and Smart 911 Director of Marketing, added, "Jeff's name kept popping up, it was like magic. So then we put 20 finalists online and got thousands of votes from around the country."
Out of those 20 finalists, Harter won the award.
"I was very humbled by it. I'm still humbled by it,” said Harter.
Dispatcher Harter says this award isn't just for him, it's also for his coworkers.
"It's a team effort. I tell the other dispatchers I work with, it's not just me receiving this award, it's you too,” said Harter.
A team that works long hours to help save the lives of strangers.