By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: August 27, 2019 | 12:30 p.m.
Efforts helped save Prince George woman in danger of serious heart trouble
PRINCE GEORGE – Everyday, the men and women who make up many communities’ public safety agencies, from the police, to fire and EMS, and its communications officers, work hard to save lives, often without thanks as its part of their mission to protect and serve their communities.
In Prince George County, Saturday, July 16, 2017 was just another day of service for the county’s police department and emergency communications center but, for Communications Officer Sherita Winfield and Prince George Police Officer Thomas Milazzo, their quick and committed actions helped saved the life of a citizen.
It all began when a Texas-based company reached out to Winfield in the ECC that Saturday afternoon, with the communications officer learning they had been monitoring the heart rate of a local resident, Patricia Parker, and the monitor had been experiencing irregular activity but, they had been unsuccessful in getting in touch with the woman.
“I received a call from a remote monitoring lab company out of Houston, Texas,” she recounted to Share Blue Smiles, which highlights law enforcement officers who go above-and-beyond the call of duty in service to their community. “They wanted us to go by Ms. Parker’s address and check her welfare.”
That call went to Officer Milazzo, who went to Parker’s home but he discovered she wasn’t inside. Unknown to both Winfield and Milazzo at the time, she was actually on the road in North Carolina as the irregularities were being detected by her monitor.
“I attended church and [afterwards], my husband, my grandson, and I were traveling to Raleigh, North Carolina to meet with my daughter,” she shared. “I was having some heart events and I knew I was having these however, I did not say anything, I just continued to ride. They were getting pretty aggressive but, I wanted to make the trip there and come back and get myself checked later.”
Back in Prince George, with Officer Milazzo receiving no answer at Parker’s home, he retreated back to his squad car. Instead of leaving, he committed to ensuring he reached the woman however he could.
“After several attempts of trying to make contact through the cell phone with negative results, I drove to the end of the driveway and I just didn’t feel right without making any contact,” he shared. “So I did one more attempt and I was able to make contact with Ms. Parker at that time. I didn’t know the severity of the call when I received it. I knew I haven’t received a welfare check call from a physician before so I figured it was pretty important to make contact with her.”
Prince George resident Patricia Parker tells the audience how she believes divine intervention helped Officer Thomas Milazzo reach her when a heart monitoring company was unable to regarding irregular activity with her device. After she finished her call with Milazzo, she was able to get to a hospital and get treatment. (Michael Campbell)
Call it perfect timing or a bit of divine intervention, Parker shared, as her family was driving through North Carolina, a powerful rainstorm forced them to stop until the weather subsided. It was then that she noticed the phone lighting up as Milazzo called.
“He said, ‘You are in immediate danger. We received a call from the heart monitoring headquarters in Houston, Texas asking us to find you. You need immediate emergency care,” Parker recounted.
After she finished the call with Milazzo, Parker discovered the place where they had parked to wait out the weather was actually a hospital, which was able to immediately admit her and render aid.
Prince George Board of Supervisors Vice-Chair Floyd Brown, Jr. came across the video created by Share Blue Smiles one morning while checking Facebook and, during a special ceremony honoring both Milazzo and Winfield, he was visibly moved by the selfless actions of these members of the county’s public safety entities.
“The video touched my heart,” he shared. “To see some of our Prince George folks that went above and beyond to make an effort to save someone’s life just struck me. I called the chief and I said, ‘I don’t mean any disrespect to everybody else on the police force that has done work, but we have to have these two in front of us.’”
Brown continued, “We don’t get a chance to really tell people how much we appreciate what they do and, in all honesty, these two will probably just tell you they were just doing their job but for the life that was saved, it was more than just doing their job.”
Winfield and Milazzo were joined by Parker, who thanked both of them for their efforts that saved her life that rainy Saturday afternoon in 2017. For her, seeing and offering her gratitude to them was a must.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Parker said. “When someone has played that much of a part in your life to help save your life, it’s divine intervention, they were guardian angels.”
She continued, reflecting on all the circumstances that aligned perfectly for Officer Milazzo to finally reach her via cell phone, “God sent a rainstorm twice, and the second one, we had no choice but to pull over. The call came, and I looked to the left, and there was the hospital. Once I got in and I told them everything, they admitted me and wouldn’t let me leave. My heart rate was supposed to be 62 but, it was 200.”
Communications Officer Sherita Winfield and Prince George Police Officer Thomas Milazzo listen to Patricia Parker, the woman who was saved by their efforts in 2017. Both Winfield and Milazzo were honored by the county after a video recounting their story was shared online. (Michael Campbell)
Parker also offered thanks to the monitoring company in Houston for their efforts after failing to get in touch with her, which resulted in the call to the county’s ECC, reaching Winfield.
“They called here after doing their research to find out where I live and the police department sent an officer to my home,” she recalled. “It is just something, whenever I think about it, I go into complete awe. I am so grateful.”
Speaking with the Share Blue Smiles initiative, Prince George Police Chief Keith Early was appreciative of the men and women who work to protect and service the community every day.
“This department is extremely proud of the community we serve and the support we get from our citizens,” he remarked. “Our motto is, ‘In Partnership with the Community’ and we live and breathe that so we are thankful for our community and I am extremely thankful for the great men and women we have serving this community.”
Both Winfield and Milazzo were humble when talking about their role in helping to likely save Parker’s life on that July day.
“It makes me feel good to know that I played a part and that Prince George Police helped save her life,” Winfield shared, with Milazzo adding, “When someone comes back to you after something you did while just doing your job and they tell you how it impacted their life in such a positive way, that is what I love about this job.”
“There are so many negative things that go on in a patrol officer’s life that you rarely get any good information back so stories and incidents like this make me proud,” he closed.
Following Winfield and Milazzo’s recognition at last week’s meeting, Parker had a simple message for the pair.
“I am so grateful to them, I love them and I thank them. They didn’t have to go that far. I know it’s their job, but they went beyond as far as I am concerned and I will always remember them,” she closed. “I wish the best for them and I hope they get all of the promotions and everything they deserve.”
To see the video and learn more about Share Blue Smiles, visit their website at http://sharebluesmiles.com.