Readers’ response: make answering 911 a priority

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I read the story about the 911 emergency response system’s phone response times with a lot of anxiety and fear (“Portland 911 callers are more often put on hold for more than 5 minutes. as the calls increase, the staff decreases ”, September 9). Almost four years ago, early on the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving, my husband suffered sudden cardiac arrest. He made a loud noise in his sleep, then became silent and stopped breathing. I jumped out of bed and called 911. The operator responded immediately, sent the appropriate medical response, instructed me on CPR over the phone, and kept me calm. The medical response team responded within minutes. They worked on him for 45 minutes before they could maintain a constant pulse. They then rushed him to Legacy Emanuel Hospital where he spent the next 12 days in the care of a large medical team of cardiologists and nurses. He is alive today and doing well.

What saved his life was the rapid response of 911, sending him the medical response team without delay. If I had to wait even a few minutes (not to mention seven and a half minutes), he would be dead. Why it’s not a priority with our city leaders is incredible and inexcusable. Our city council should deal with issues like these in Portland. That’s what they were elected for. City Commissioners, please make the funding and reorganization of 911 so that it is well staffed, trained and really only takes care of emergencies, a priority as if your life, or that of those you love, depended on it. They can very well.

Hannah Callaghan, Portland

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