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911 dispatcher helps with dog's emergency

December 22, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Donna Wishard and her husband Bob were baking cookies for the holidays last week when My Lady, their 14-month old Labrador, started to wheeze and then collapsed.

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Moments earlier, the female yellow Labrador had been calmly looking out the front window and was in apparent good health, said Donna Wishard, who has had the dog since it was a puppy.

"She stopped breathing. I thought she was dead," she said.

Before the 65-pound dog fell to the ground, she looked as though she were choking on something. Wishard said she found out later from her veterinarian that the dog was having a seizure.

While her husband attempted cardio-pulmonary resuscitation she went to the home of a neighbor who is a firefighter in the Robinwood Development where she lives.

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"I ran up the street screaming," but was unable to find anyone to help, she said.

With the dog still in peril, Donna Wishard rushed home and dialed 911. The call was answered by dispatcher Dave Hays, who was working that evening with Michael Shifler and Bob Hoopengardner, all of whom have emergency medical training.

Although he has a female cocker spaniel puppy named Sammy, Hays said he had never performed CPR on an animal.

"We felt bad for the lady - none of us knew exactly what to do but we wanted to help," said Hays.

As a 911 dispatcher, Hays receives emergency calls and occasionally relies on special cards with medical procedures listed to help victims until an ambulance can reach the scene.

None of the cards the dispatchers had were appropriate for a dog, so Hays grabbed a guide for performing the Heimlich maneuver on children and worked from that, he said.

Hays gave instructions to Donna Wishard over the phone, and she relayed them to her husband, who performed them on the ailing dog.

The paramedic said he told her to lay the dog on its back, place her hands below it's ribs and press down in rapid succession.

As Hays talked to the woman, Shifler searched for a veterinarian and Hoopengardner handled other emergency calls for them.

Eventually, My Lady began to breathe, said Wishard.

The incident took about four minutes.

"It was hard for me to see her sick. I felt so helpless," said Wishard, who said she was beginning to panic when she made the 911 call.

She said Hays calmed her down and she was thankful for the dispatchers' efforts and compassion.

"They were good enough to take the time to help my dog. I would have been devastated if I lost her," she said.

Wishard that still might be the case because her veterinarian said the dog may have epilepsy and that it could be fatal.

Even though the dog was not choking, Wishard said she believes Hays ' medical advice was helpful to My Lady and relieved her suffering.

"I believe the 911 dispatcher and my husband (following Hays' instructions) saved my dog's life," Wishard said.

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