EMT Stays On Phone With Stroke Victim For 8 Hours

A New York EMT remained on the phone with an elderly stroke victim for nearly eight hours as rescuers tried to determine the woman’s location.

Joann Hillman-Payne received a call from Mary Thomas around 1 pm Monday, and stayed on the phone with her until about 8:30 pm, when Verizon Wireless was able to locate Thomas’ cellphone signal.

According to The New York Post, rescue workers were first dispatched to an East 71st Street address based on a cellphone tower relaying Thomas’ call. However, Thomas was nowhere to be found when rescuers reached the location.

Hillman-Payne continued to try to communicate with Thomas, whose speech was badly slurred, and keep her conscious. Hillman-Payne’s boss, Lt. Arlene Simmons, then reached out to the Fire Marshal’s Office for help. She proceeded to call a list of people with the stroke victim‘s name, while first responders tried to get an access a database of patient information.

Eventually, a Manhattan address for Thomas was located, but she didn’t live there — she only worked there as a housekeeper.


It was then that Emergency Medical Dispatch Capt. Philip Weiss got in touch with Verizon Wireless and the NYPD to trace Thomas’ cellphone location. The NYPD reviewed information from Hillman-Payne’s conversation with Thomas, and led rescue workers to several addresses in Manhattan. Thomas wasn’t at any of them.

Finally, Verizon was able to pinpoint Thomas’ location, and EMTs were sent to an apartment on East 72nd Street, where they finally found the victim. Thomas was working as a maid in the apartment when she suffered the stroke, according to a doorman at the building. She was then rushed to Lenox Hill Hospital, where she is being treated in the ICU.

Weiss, in a letter asking that Hillman-Payne and her colleagues be recognized for the heroic efforts, wrote, “I have no doubt that without the efforts of all involved [Thomas’] outcome would not have been positive.”

What do you think of the EMT that remained on the phone with a stroke victim for almost eight hours?