STEC offering counseling after dispatcher dies following medical emergency

South Texas Medical Care Foundation in Harlingen is seen in this file photo. (Maricela Rodriguez/Valley Morning Star)
Only have a minute? Listen instead
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

HARLINGEN — The city’s ambulance company was fielding emergency calls when a 911 dispatcher suffered a medical emergency on duty.

On Friday, the South Texas Medical Care Foundation was offering counseling services for employees after the dispatcher died Saturday during a weekend in which a co-worker suddenly died in an unrelated case.

Two weeks ago, the dispatcher was taken to a hospital after suffering a health emergency on the job before co-workers covered for her, responding to 911 calls during her 12-hour shift.

“The dispatcher was covered by other dispatchers,” Rene Perez, STEC’s transportation director, said Thursday in an interview. “From the time she had the medical emergency to the time she was taken to the hospital, there were no 911 calls missed.”

The company, working with a total of eight dispatchers, staffs two dispatchers during its 12-hour shifts, Perez said.

“Personnel in the communications center and people who are authorized have access to communications,” he added.

The facts behind the incident debunk Facebook posts claiming the dispatcher died on job, leaving STEC’s 911 center unmanned for as long as 20 hours.

On Wednesday, STEC announced the dispatcher’s death on Facebook.

“She impacted so many people’s lives answering the call and we feel honored to have served alongside her,” officials posted regarding the certified emergency medical dispatcher who had worked in STEC’s communications center for more than five years following a career in which she served with the La Feria police and fire departments.

Officials announced the dispatcher’s death along with a co-worker’s death.

“It is with heavy hearts that we share the unfortunate news of the passing of two valued members of our South Texas Emergency Care Foundation family over the weekend in unrelated events,” officials posted. “In recognition of their unwavering commitment and service, we would like to express our deepest gratitude for the invaluable contributions they made to our community and extend our most sincere condolences to their loved ones.”

Officials were planning to hold a second counseling session to help employees cope with their co-workers’ deaths, Perez said.