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Dispatcher, family still feel 911 link

September 13, 1998

Dispatcher and childBy MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




Jessica Cosgrove is ordinarily a little shy with strangers, but when she and Justin Mayhue met for the first time Thursday, they seemed to connect right away.

It's not surprising since the two were renewing a life-giving bond established during a 911 call back in 1990.

Mayhue, 37, is a veteran dispatcher with Washington County Fire and Rescue Communications. He was on duty on Oct. 4, 1990, when Jessica's mom, Melanie Cosgrove, made a frantic call for help to 911.

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"Jessica was only seven days old and she just stopped breathing," Cosgrove said. "We called 911 and Justin talked my husband and me through it."

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On Thursday, Cosgrove visited the 911 Center at 35 W. Washington St., bringing Jessica and her younger sister, Ashley, 6.

The visit, which was part of the observance of 911 Emergency Number Day in Maryland, marked the first time any members of the Cosgrove family had met Mayhue.

"It's really great to meet you after all this time," Mayhue said to Jessica and her mother. "I often wondered if I had passed you on the street and didn't know it was you."

The call stood out from the thousands Mayhue has handled in his 14 years as a dispatcher. He said dealing with the resuscitation of a baby that young and small was challenging - and memorable.

"The parents did a great job," Mayhue said. Melanie Cosgrove talked with Mayhue on the phone while Kenny Cosgrove performed the procedures.

The meeting Thursday featured a playback of the tape from Melanie Cosgrove's 911 call. Jessica listened intently, asking who each voice was when they spoke.

Melanie and Kenny Cosgrove's frantic tones and accelerated breathing could be heard clearly. Almost as stunning was the calm, collected voice of Mayhue as he described how to find Jessica's pulse, how to help her get oxygen and what position Jessica should be in for maximum breathing ease.

Jessica smiled broadly at the end of the tape when she clearly heard her own cries - loud and clear as she took her first breath.

"We really appreciate what you did for us that day," Melanie Cosgrove said to Mayhue.

Relying on his training and experience was the key, Mayhue said. In 1990, there were no charts or other aids for Mayhue to refer to - it all came from memory.

The Cosgroves live in Boonsboro, where Jessica is now a third-grader.

Her survival wasn't the only benefit that flowed from the family's experience with a 911 emergency.

Because of her experiences that day, Melanie Cosgrove decided to become an emergency medical technician. She is with the Sharpsburg Ambulance Company.

"I'm a student at Shepherd College, where I will finish my paramedic training in June 1999," she said.

The State of Maryland adopted 911 in 1979. Friday was proclaimed 911 Emergency Number Day by the Washington County Commissioners.

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