Guilford County dispatchers helped save nearly 50 lives last year with CPR instructions

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- When you pick up the phone to call 911, you expect quick help on the other end, but when dispatchers pick up the phone, they expect anything and everything.

"You'll never know what it is on the other side of that line," said Gregory Cobb, who has been working the phones at Guilford Metro 911 for nearly 14 years.

"I like to help people and I think everybody who works here, that's exactly what they like to do," Cobb said.

Dispatchers sit in a large room surrounded by the buzz of computer and conversations, lit by dozens of monitors with maps and routes across Guilford County. They take in roughly 1,500 calls every day, emergency and non-emergency related. Cobb says every call is different.

Talking people through CPR is one of the main parts of the job, as people wait for emergency services to arrive. Over the past two years, they've helped 86 people get to the emergency room alive because of dispatchers walking people through the steps. They had 43 "life saves" in both 2016 and 2015, with 30 in 2014. Back in 2013, the policy shifted to have dispatchers talk people through chest compressions only, taking the mouth-to-mouth part out of the CPR equation.

"As soon as you get off that phone, you don't know," Cobb said. "Sometimes it's days, a couple of days, before you even find out about it, sometimes a couple of weeks."

Through those type of instructions, Cobb saved three lives last year. "It feels good to know that you helped somebody in their time of need," he said.

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