EMT Stays on Phone With Stroke Victim For 8 Hours Trying to Find Her

An FDNY EMT dispatcher stayed on the phone with a stroke victim for eight hours as rescuers tried to pinpoint where the distressed and slurring woman had fallen.

EMT Joann Hilman-Payne got the call at about 1 PM on Monday afternoon, and stayed on the line with the stroke victim, Mary Thomas, as rescue workers went to the locaton they believed Thomas was at, based on a cell phone tower that received her call. But she wasn't there.

Rescuers then filed through all the people living in Manhattan with the same name as Thomas, who was identified by caller ID. Unfortunately, Thomas was a housekeeper working in Manhattan, and didn't actually live in the apartment where she had a stroke.

Verizon workers were finally able to exactly pinpoint Thomas's location at around nine that evening, eight hours after the call had begun. Hillman-Payne had stayed on the line the entire time with the victim, trying to keep her conscious after she collapsed in an Upper East Side apartment. Thomas is now at a hospital in the Intensive Care Unit.

In a letter or recognition for her actions, Emergency Medical Dispatch Capt. Philip Weiss wrote that "throughout the entirety [Hilman-Payne] worked to keep the patient awake, she never lost her own composure and remained calm while attempting to elicit more information from the patient.”

Weiss continues that Hilman-Payne “remained on the phone with the patient for almost eight hours being spelled only briefly for reasons of personal necessity.”

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