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Couple thanks Sheriff's Office dispatcher who helped save man's life

Sheriff's Office dispatcher Teri Cox gets a big hug from Cathy Sherman as her husband, Thomas, stands by with flowers. The Shermans thanked Cox for talking Cathy through performing CPR on Thomas after he collapsed at their home.
Sheriff's Office dispatcher Teri Cox gets a big hug from Cathy Sherman as her husband, Thomas, stands by with flowers. The Shermans thanked Cox for talking Cathy through performing CPR on Thomas after he collapsed at their home. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

In her 26 years as a dispatcher for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, Teri Cox has never come face to face with the many people she has helped in their time of need.

That is, until she met Thomas and Cathy Sherman.

On May 2, 2013, Cox received a distressed call to dispatch from Cathy Sherman, an administrator with San Luis Ambulance Co., whose husband, Thomas Sherman, the CEO of Founders Community Bank, had just collapsed at their home and lost consciousness.

Based on the information available, and knowing that help was a good eight minutes away, Cox told Cathy Sherman that CPR had to be given immediately.

She calmed her down and walked her through performing hands-only CPR long enough for paramedics to arrive and take Thomas Sherman to French Hospital Medical Center.

According to Cathy Sherman, Cox saved her husband’s life.

Cox, who has instructed callers on emergency techniques over the phone before, credited Cathy Sherman’s resolve to fight exhaustion and keep Thomas Sherman’s heart pumping.

On Thursday, the Shermans walked into the Sheriff’s Dispatch Center to meet Cox, and they instantly fell into an emotional embrace.

“You did such a great job,” Cathy Sherman told Cox.

“The reality is, (Cathy Sherman) did all this. I just prompted her,” Cox said. “She did it on her own.”

“I wanted to meet Teri and thank her in person,” Thomas Sherman said. “It was really a team effort, and I am so grateful.”

Today, Sherman is doing fine. In fact, he was back to full-time work less than two months later.

Cox said that, unfortunately, not all emergency calls have the same happy ending.

“It doesn’t happen very often, but getting the (reporting person) started and talking them through maintaining that rhythm can make all the difference,” she said.

If there’s a lesson to be learned, it’s that even a basic knowledge of CPR can make the difference between life and death. There are free local classes provided by organizations such as Helping Hands and the American Heart Association that anyone can sign up for.

“When she asked me if I knew CPR, and I remembered that I did, it was so empowering.

That’s what people need to know,” Cathy Sherman said.

The Shermans plan to keep in touch with Cox for some time to come.

“Teri will be part of our lives forever, and hopefully now that will be a very, very long time,” Cathy Sherman said. “We’ll be talking to you on the nonemergency line.”

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