Heroic dispatcher coaches bystanders, saves baby
A three-month-old girl was revived and is recovering in hospital after a dramatic emergency response Thursday afternoon in which a 911 ambulance dispatcher coached bystanders how to do infant CPR.
“Bystander CPR is one of the first links in the chain of survival,” said Marc-Antoine Deschamps of the Ottawa Paramedic Service. “That’s why it’s so important for our dispatchers to find someone to do it. Even if you’ve never taken a course, they’ll tell you what to do and how to do it.”
The drama began around 3:15 p.m. when the infant’s parents were driving on St. Laurent Boulevard and noticed the girl had become unresponsive. They stopped on the overpass near Innes Road and one person sprinted about 400 metres to get help from Fire Station No. 36 on Industrial Avenue.
By the time firefighters arrived, a City of Ottawa parking enforcement officer had already stopped to assist and bystanders were on the phone to the ambulance dispatcher.
The female dispatcher coached them through the process until firefighters took over. The baby was taken to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario where she was in stable condition, Deschamps said.
The dispatcher was shaken by the “emotionally difficult” experience, he said.
“It’s extremely stressful, but they are very well trained to handle this sort of situation.
“It’s important that you call 911 right away because they will give you all the instructions. Even if you’re very close to a hospital, if you don’t do CPR right away it might be too late.”
Danielle Cardinal of the Ottawa Fire Services praised the “team effort” involved, but cautioned people to phone 911 rather than running to a fire station since there’s no guarantee anyone will be there. Cardinal began her career as an ambulance dispatcher and knows how stressful such calls can be.
“When you’re giving someone instructions it’s not always the easiest day,” she said. “I tip my hat to that dispatcher who kept everyone calm and gave instructions for this baby to get the best care.”