Springfield, Massachusetts — In her career as an emergency response dispatcher, Quantisha Wilbon has given CPR instructions over the phone but has never needed to perform the life-saving procedure on someone in distress.
But that changed on a Sunday evening, Aug. 16, while she was standing in the checkout line at a grocery store in Springfield.
Wilbon, who was off duty from her job as a communications dispatcher for the Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) campus police department, briskly walked to the parking lot after she heard someone needed help.
“When I was cashing out, another teller came in and stated they were performing CPR on a gentleman outside, and that’s when I went out to see what was going on and to see what kind of help was needed,” said Wilbon, a lifelong Springfield resident who lives in Indian Orchard.
A bystander was giving chest compressions to a man on the ground. Wilbon stepped in to assist. “It is pretty tiring, so I offered to the gentlemen that if he needed for me to take over, I was available to do that,” Wilbon said.
Wibon could tell the man was in bad shape. She is trained to administer CPR and give instructions on how to perform the procedure. She worked as a communications supervisor for the AMR ambulance service for 17 years before coming to STCC.
“I’ve never been put in that predicament, but I felt the need to act at that time. There were numerous times when I had to give instructions on how to give CPR over the phone but nothing like this has ever happened in person,” she said. “He was bleeding from his head, and he was unresponsive and turning blue.”
Wilbon said her response was automatic, but she felt numb afterward.
“I couldn’t believe I did it, but somebody needed help so automatically I felt the need to go over and assist,” she said.
Wilbon heard that the man was breathing as he was transported to the hospital.
After the ambulance pulled away, Wilbon went to her car to get hand sanitizer, returned to the store to pay for her groceries, and then went home.
“It wasn’t expected, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” Wilbon said. “To God be the glory I was put in the right place at the right time to be able to assist someone who needed help.”
STCC Police Chief Jose “Joe” Rivera said he is extremely proud of Dispatcher Wilbon and honored to work alongside her at STCC.
“Saving someone’s life is a public safety employee’s most solemn duty and is something we train for and expect to do as part of our job,” Rivera said. “Consummate professionals like Dispatcher Wilbon exemplify that we are always on duty and are ready to do our best no matter where we are. She is not only an exceptional employee, but also a caring and compassionate person whose qualities are indicative of our members at STCC Police and the college as a whole.”
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