Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What a Lifesaver!

It’s been nearly three weeks since emergency dispatcher Julie Becker answered the phone and helped save Lee Lustig’s life. Becker came face-to-face with Lustig, 62, and his wife Diane, who Becker guided in performing CPR on her husband, during a rare and emotional meeting at the CCSO Communications Center on Tuesday. The North Naples couple presented Becker with a bouquet of flowers and a Bible. They said it was important for them thank Becker in person. Lee Lustig, 62, told Becker, “You are the poster girl for cool under stress.” Becker was overwhelmed by the couple’s gesture. “I guess there was a reason I picked up the phone, that particular phone line,” she said.

Original news release, posted April 13, 2009:

CCSO Dispatcher To Meet Man Whose Life She Helped Save

WHAT: Media Availability

WHEN: Tuesday, April 14, 2009

TIME: 1 p.m.

WHERE: CCSO Communications Center, Building J, second floor

MEDIA NOTE: Reporters, please meet at PIO at 12:45 p.m.

In the early morning hours of March 25, Lee Lustig suddenly fell off a chair in his North Naples home and went into cardiac arrest.

Had it not been for CCSO 911 Supervisor Julie Becker, the 62-year-old Lustig, a retired Army officer and physical fitness buff, might have died.

Becker kept Diane Lustig calm and instructed her how to perform CPR on her husband over the phone for 10 minutes until paramedics arrived.

Lustig was discharged from the hospital five days later. He is now back to doing the things he loves – running eight miles a day, fishing, hiking, and mountain climbing, according to his wife.

“All of our neighbors tell me they couldn’t have done what I did, and I tell them, ‘But you didn’t have Julie,’” Diane Lustig said Monday.

On Tuesday, the Lustigs and Becker will meet face-to-face for the first time. The couple arranged for the meeting because they wanted to personally thank Becker.

“We just can’t wait to meet her,” Diane Lustig said. “I would like the world to know that this is what you get when you call 911 – wonderful people.”

Becker is enthusiastic about meeting the Lustigs.

“I’m anxious to meet them,” Becker said. “I think this should happen more often.”

Also Tuesday, Collier County commissioners will designate April 12-18 as National Telecommunicators Week In Collier County to recognize the critical role played by public safety telecommunicators such as Becker.

This is Becker’s third life save in her 10 years as an emergency dispatcher at CCSO, but only the first time she will meet someone whose life she helped save.

Becker, 51, was just getting into her shift when she got the call about Lee Lustig at 6:25 a.m.

“When I answered the woman immediately said, ‘I need help,’’’ Becker recalled. “She was so easy to work with. That’s what stuck in my mind the most.”

Becker’s supervisors say the fact that she kept Diane Lustig calm and focused made the difference in the call.

“This call could serve as a textbook example of the perfect application of the protocol,’’ EMD Coordinator Kevin Pearson wrote in an April 13 memo nominating Becker for a CCSO Lifesaving award.

Becker is one of four CCSO emergency dispatchers who will be recognized with the award for lifesaving efforts this year:

The other dispatchers and their life saves are:

Danielle Whaley, who helped deliver a baby on Feb. 28. After lining up a translator due to a language barrier, Whaley was able to guide the father in the delivery of the child. When baby wasn’t breathing after delivery, Whaley quickly determined that there were no obvious problems and immediately instructed the father to briskly rub the baby’s back up and down to stimulate the baby. After a tense minute the baby began to cry. This is Whaley’s second life-save and baby delivery in two months. On Dec. 13, 2008 _ Whaley’s first day working alone as an EMD operator _ she guided a husband and a wife in the successful delivery of a baby girl.

Kristen Peebles, who helped save the life of a 51-year-old woman who was unconscious and not breathing on Jan. 6. Peebles guided family members in the correct use of CPR until paramedics arrived.

Ashley Aurigemma, who helped save the life of a 70-year-old woman who was unconscious and not breathing on Feb. 10. Aurigemma also instructed family members in the use of CPR until paramedics arrived.