Abbotsford Police dispatchers help save woman in New York

Goes into medical distress while chatting online

Dispatchers working from the Abbotsford Police Department's communications centre helped to save a woman in New York State who was in medical distress.

A woman in New York State has dispatchers with the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) to thank for saving her life on Sunday.

Const. Ian MacDonald said the incident began at about 8:45 a.m., when the APD communications centre, which handles both emergency and non-emergency reports from the public, received a call from a woman concerned about an acquaintance in an online chat room.

The 59-year-old caller said she was concerned about her friend, also 59, because she had been typing incoherently and not in her usual manner.

The caller knew the woman’s name – Nancy – but did not know where she lived. She did, however, have a cellphone number connected to the chat room account.

Dispatchers called the number, but didn’t get a response.

MacDonald said a dispatcher stayed on the line with the Abbotsford caller, while another worked on tracking down the cellphone provider in order to obtain information about Nancy’s possible residence.

The address for the phone subscriber came back to an area of New York State, and a third staff member then began contacting nearby police agencies to determine which one covered that area.

A call was first made to the Rochester Police Department, who said the address was under the jurisdiction of the Canandaigua Police Department. That agency then referred the APD dispatcher to the sheriff’s office.

Next, Nancy’s cellphone was “pinged” to find the closest cell tower to where she was located, in the event that she wasn’t at home. The information came back to a hotel in the area.

Police and ambulance went to the hotel and, after confirming Nancy was a guest there, found her unconscious on the floor, but still breathing.

She was taken to hospital, where she is recovering.

MacDonald said the APD has not been told the exact circumstances of Nancy’s condition, although it appears she might have suffered a stroke. But he said she might not be alive without the efforts of everyone involved – from the caller to the dispatchers to the emergency responders in New York.

He is particularly proud of the work of the crew in the APD communications centre.

“We believe Nancy is alive because of the diligence and determination of the staff.”