VB911: Couple Thanks Virginia Beach Dispatcher Who Helped Save Husband’s Life

A leaf was placed on ‘Tree of Life’ at the communications center recognizing a life saved.

Tree of Life Maleah Richard Stefanie

Pictured (L-R): Maleah, Stefanie and Richard at the Tree of Life

In March, Maleah H., an Emergency Communications & Citizen Services emergency telecommunicator, received a 911 call from a Virginia Beach resident whose husband had stopped breathing. Maleah immediately asked the woman if she was ready to begin CPR. She calmly instructed her, and the woman was able to successfully perform multiple rounds until EMS arrived. 

Richard R. had gone into sudden cardiac arrest, a medical emergency that occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating, preventing blood from circulating properly throughout the body. Maleah’s CPR directions to Stefanie R. was vital and helped save Richard’s life. 

Richard and Stefanie visited the ECCS Communications Center on May 22 to meet and thank Maleah.  

Maleah and Richard share a hug and Stefanie looks on

“You did great. When I said, ‘Are you willing to do CPR?’ You said, ‘yes’ and I was like, ‘let’s go,’” Maleah said. “I never really get to know the outcome, so it’s really nice to see it come full circle, and I’m so happy that you’re standing here.” 

Tree of Life 

When Richard awoke from a medically induced coma days later, he said doctors couldn’t believe he was alert and talking.  

“They were amazed. They said the folks that do make it, they’re on a ventilator or life support for years, or they need physical therapy to learn how to walk again,” he said. “They couldn’t believe that I was walking and talking within days after that with full heart function restored.” 

It was an emotional meeting, with Stefanie and Richard hugging and thanking Maleah for helping in saving his life. Maleah has been a dispatcher with the City for a year and a half, but Stefanie said during the call she gave directions like a seasoned pro. 

After the hugs and tears, Maleah and the couple placed a cut-out leaf with Maleah’s name and case number on the Tree of Life. The tree mural recognizes VB911 dispatchers who have a part in saving someone’s life. Tracy Dove, senior operations supervisor at ECCS, was inspired by another out-of-state agency that had a similar tree mural.  

“For every life saved, we put a leaf on the tree, and for every baby that we assist in the birth gets an acorn cut-out,” Dove said. “We started it in April 2022, and we have a batch of leaves ready to go up.” 

Tree of Life sticker

Since its inception, the mural has now “come to life” with countless leaves and acorns adorning the branches. 

Maleah’s husband, two kids, her twin sister Aleah (who is also a member of ECCS) and other ECCS staff were present during the meetup. Maleah said she was just doing her job and that she loves being a dispatcher. The life-saving call is another reason for her to keep serving the City of Virginia Beach. 

ECCS provides efficient, accurate, professional processing of emergency, non-emergency, and information requests to residents and visitors to Virginia Beach 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visit eccs.virginiabeach.gov for more information on VB911, VB311 and VBAlert.