ST. GEORGE — A St. George 911 dispatcher was recognized last month as the recipient of the police department’s Life Saving Award and Dispatcher of the Year Award.
According to posts on the St. George Police Department’s Facebook page, Heather Hallman received the Dispatcher of the Year Award for being a model dispatcher; however, the Life Saving Award was awarded for her actions when she wasn’t on the job.
Hallman told St. George News that on April 16 she was watching her son ride his bike at Snake Hollow Bike Park when she saw a man crash his bike.
“It’s a bike park, people crash,” Hallman said. “You don’t really think too much about it because it just happens, but he didn’t get up.”
The man — 35-year-old Jason Kitchen of Lehi, Utah — landed on his handlebars and gashed his thigh, Hallman said. When she noticed his friends and family calling 911, she offered help. She used a sweatshirt to put pressure on the wound, which was bleeding heavily enough to indicate that it was serious, she said. Hallman asked the 911 dispatcher to send an ambulance and waited with the man and his family until he was en route to the hospital.
St. George Communications Center manager Cindy Flowers told St. George News that had Hallman not applied pressure and tied the tourniquet, “the doctors have said he may have bled out in about five minutes.”
“They were lucky to have her there.”
In an email Kitchen sent to Hallman and shared with St. George News, he said that he credits Hallman with saving his life. Immediately after the crash, he said he began to feel lightheaded.
“I’ll never forget that tangible feeling of energy leaving my body,” he wrote. “I tried to comprehend what had just happened and how the situation was going to get better. Then came Heather.”
At the hospital, he was informed by doctors that he’d lost a third of his blood. Four days after surgery, he said he was back at work as a landscaper. The experience helped him gain a better appreciation for life, family, his body and limitations, he said, although he would’ve preferred to learn the lesson a different way.
“I’m planning on enjoying life more fully” Kitchen wrote, “and I want you to know that my wife and four kids are so happy I’m still around.”
Hallman’s behavior off the job would seem to be a reflection of how she carries herself at work, where Flowers said she helps train new dispatchers and is always around when she’s needed. This is why she was also nominated for Dispatcher of the Year, Flowers said.
“People do look up to her and recognize her as a leader here,” she said, adding that when it comes to the dispatch center, the general public wants to feel secure that a phone call will get help for loved ones. “The expectation is that somebody’s going to pick up and help you and get you through it.”
Hallman said she believes any of her coworkers would step in if they saw someone who needed help. That speaks to the caliber of people that work in the dispatch center, she said, and knowing that her coworkers aren’t afraid to get involved is what makes the St. George center the best 911 center in the state in her opinion.
“I know bad things are going to happen every day, and trying to be part of helping somebody, that’s probably what motivates me personally,” she said. “The teamwork and knowing help is going to get there as fast as they can, no matter when you call, what time you call or what your reason for calling is.”
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