New York City dispatcher spent almost 8 hours on stroke call

June 17, 2013 2:55:32 PM PDT
A New York City emergency dispatcher is being hailed for spending nearly eight hours on the phone with a woman who had suffered a stroke while rescuers tried to pinpoint the woman's location.

"I said, hello, and she said, help me, help me, I'm tired," said FDNY dispatcher Joann Hillman.

She had no idea when she took a 911 call last Monday that she would stay on the phone so many hours with a stroke victim.

"We didn't have a name, didn't know who she was. What was wrong," said Hillman. "We didn't have a number, I had to keep her on the phone, that's way I stayed on the phone. There was no way to call her back."

Hillman says the dispatch team learned the phone was a landline but it had no callback information.

"What it came in was the area code and then 911, it must have had an emergency button that called," she said.

Hillman says she kept trying to get an address from the woman who was slurring and confused, and kept giving her different information.

""We went to Manhattan, we went to Brooklyn, and the Bronx, then back to Brooklyn," she said, playing detective to try and get crews to the right place.

But how is it possible for the FDNY not to be able to trace a call for that long?

We wanted to ask the Fire Commissioner, but he ducked out of a graduation ceremony.

Emergency medical technicians eventually did find the victim, a housekeeper in a high-rise on East 72nd Street.

Someone called into her phone, and that was traced. Joann Hillman just knows she never gave up.

The 54-year old stroke victim remains hospitalized.

A fire department spokesman told us the woman apparently called 0 for operator, not 911.

And the Verizon operator transferred the call to 911 without including the location or a callback number.

Verizon did not return our calls.