FDNY dispatcher Joann Hilman-Payne stayed on the phone with a stroke victim for seven and a half hours while her colleagues struggled to locate the elderly woman, reports the New York Post. Mary Thomas called 911 at 1 p.m. on Monday from a cellphone, but rescue workers had a ton of trouble figuring out where exactly she was. They first went to an East 71st Street address based on the location of the cellphone tower that routed Thomas’s call, but she wasn’t there. Back at the office, Hillman-Payne continued to speak to a slurring Thomas, keeping her conscious while attempting to get more information.
The conversation lasted the rest of the day as her boss, Lieutenant Arlene Simmons, and other dispatchers called a list Manhattan numbers associated with the name Mary Thomas, hoping to find her address, though the effort proved unsuccessful because Thomas was at her job as a housekeeper on East 72nd Street when the stroke hit. Eventually, after the NYPD review of the call led to several more wrong addresses, they asked Verizon to determine Thomas’s location; EMTs finally found her at 8:30 p.m. and took her to Lenox Hill, where she remains in the ICU. “I have no doubt that without the efforts of all involved [Thomas’] outcome would not have been positive,” wrote Emergency Medical Dispatch Captain Philip Weiss in a letter to the FDNY asking that the team receive recognition for their work.