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Patient Care

Mass. Firefighters Go the Distance for Mich. Mother's Call for Help

MetroWest Daily News, Framingham, Mass.

Feb. 26—Desperately seeking medical help for her son on Saturday, a Wayland woman sent a message to the Wayland Fire Department's Facebook page.

"Help me, my child is choking on chicken and I don't have a phone, please help," the woman wrote.

The problem was, the woman lived in Wayland, Michigan, not Wayland, Massachusetts, and she sent the message to the wrong department, assistant Fire Chief Neil McPherson said on Sunday.

The message was received at 10:35 p.m. Although the page is not monitored all day, one of the page's administrators was on duty and looking at the page when the message came in.

The group of Firefighter/Paramedics William Tyree and Patrick Walkinshaw, along with Firefighter/EMT Dean Casali, jumped into action to try to help the woman and her choking 16-year-old son, even if it wasn't happening in their Wayland, McPherson said.

"They took a team approach," said McPherson. "One of them was working to try to figure out where she was. She provided an address, but it wasn't one in Massachusetts. The other kept talking to her on Facebook and giving her pre-arrival advice on choking to try to get her to help her son. The third called the Wayland, Michigan Fire Department to get them there."

The woman messaged the Wayland Fire Department Facebook page on Sunday and thanked them, letting them know her son was OK, the assistant chief said.

McPherson said the woman was lucky. The Wayland Fire Department, like most departments, do not monitor Facebook or other social media channels 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Emergencies should never be directed that way.

Also, even if a cellphone has its service cut, as long as the phone is charged, 911 can still be dialed and is a better option than a Facebook message.

Casali, Tyree and Walkinshaw should be proud of themselves, McPherson said.

"They worked together collaboratively as a team," said McPherson. "I know we're proud of them to come together in such an unusual situation."

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