Chenango dispatcher named national winner for life saving efforts

NORWICH – The Chenango County Sheriff’s Office announced today that 9-1-1 dispatcher Jeff Harter has been named the national winner in Rave Mobile Safety’s first-ever Smart Telecommunicator Awards, a nationwide online campaign aimed at drawing attention to National Telecommunicators Week, held today through April 14.

In March, a total of twenty 9-1-1 call-takers and dispatchers across the country – including Harter – were nominated for the award. Harter, a Sheriff’s Office dispatcher since 2006, was recognized for his life-saving actions of June 24, 2011. On that date, he received a frantic 9-1-1 call from Gwen Hornbeck, mother of then 17-year-old Lauren LaMariana. The emergency? Her daughter was choking on a piece of hot dog and was lying on the floor, no longer breathing and turning blue.

After family members’ unsuccessful attempts to dislodge the piece of food, Hornbeck called 9-1-1.

Said the distraught mother, “We couldn’t help her ... I didn’t know what to do.”

While his fellow dispatchers relayed instructions to emergency and ambulance personnel, Harter did what any dispatcher trained in Emergency Medical Dispatch would do – he attempted to calm Hornbeck down while providing instructions in a calm, professional manner. Without his help, said Hornbeck, her daughter would have certainly died.

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