SAN ANTONIO — A local man’s life was saved thanks to his daughter and an experienced paramedic who took the 911 call.
Monica Pesek said she heard her 80-year-old father, Charles, hit their kitchen floor one morning. She found him unresponsive and immediately dialed 911. He had suffered a stroke. The dispatcher who answered her call was Nick Norred.
“First of all, he calmed me and then coached me through CPR” Pesek said. “Essentially, he instructed me. During the compression, it was two inches below the rib cage.”
Norred had the knowledge and skills to walk her through CPR because he’s more than a dispatcher. He’s been a San Antonio Fire Department engineer and paramedic for about the last 14 years.
“Being a professional is relying on your training. It all comes back down to that. So, if you panic, who's going to help the patient? Who's going to help that caller?” Norred said.
The SAFD communications division captain, Lisa Jimerson, said currently, they have 52 fire engineers that play dual roles at their dispatch center. They are licensed paramedics. SAFD requires all of its personnel to have EMT basic training.
“When [a call] gets sent to the fire department, that call taker will be a paramedic. That's the gold standard on how we want to receive 911 calls. Because our call takers are the first link in the chain of survivability,” Capt. Jimerson said.
Through Norred’s skilled directions, Pesek was able to help her father. In a 911 audio call, you can hear him breathing in the background. Norred stayed on the line until more help arrived.
“I kept giving her encouragements, as far as the intervention she was doing. I was able to give her updates like, 'Oh, they're pulling into your neighborhood. They're 3 blocks away,'" said Norred. “I knew I wanted to stay on the phone with her until the fire crews arrived on scene. In fact, I had the map pulled up and I was following them in.”
Pesek said after she got her father to the hospital, she called the dispatch center to thank Norred.
“There’s no value I can put on for what you did for me today,” she said on the call.
“Today alone, we're only 6 to 8 hours into our shift. I've taken 40 or 50 calls today. We don't know the outcomes most of the time. This is what's special about this one. She contacted us and said, 'hey, I want to let you know, my dad made it.' That's amazing,” Norred said. “I'm just a small part of an amazing team. I know that any of my brothers or sisters who answer that phone would have done the exact same thing.”
Pesek said if it weren't for Norred, her father would not be with her today. She called SAFD paramedics a gift for the people of San Antonio.
“I think we have the right people doing the job. If everyone here in this room is the type of qualified individual like Nick? We can't ask for anything better.”
Pesek had learned how to perform this CPR years ago. Norred said it helped him guide her through the steps. He encourages other people to learn this life-saving technique.