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INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC SAFETY ASSOCIATION
Together we are stronger

How a dispatcher, 911 call taker took cautious steps to save a woman’s life

12 Apr 2017 7:57 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

By Dylan Prather

It was around 4 a.m. on Monday, April 17, 2016, when I answered a 911 call from a female.

The very first words that I hear from her is “PUT THE GUN AWAY.” I immediately knew that I needed to act fast if I was going to save someone’s life. I had no idea what was going on, but I knew every second I was on the line counted. She needed help right away.

Keeping the line open, text to 911

She wasn’t answering my questions. It was just an open line –an open line, and I felt helpless. I kept reassuring her that this was 911 and that I was going to get her help. I was able to obtain a GPS ping with the cell phone, and I immediately dispatched the road deputies to the general vicinity of where the phone was located.

I then used our communications center’s texting capabilities to make contact with her. While keeping the line open, and still listening to what was going on in the background, I used the texting system and sent the female a text message.

During the course of our text message conversation, she was able to tell me what his name was, the weapon used, and that he was saying that he was going to kill her. These messages were only minutes apart, if not seconds. However, in these situations they seem like hours.

The female lived in a remote area of the county, so it took the deputies awhile to arrive at the scene. While they were responding to the call, I was continually updating them on the information that was vital while simultaneously running information to see if I could determine who owned the phone number so we can see if we had previously dealt with the subject.

Incredible vigilance

I wasn’t going to jeopardize her life by calling her back, but instead I just maintained an open line and continued to communicate with her over text message. The officers arrived a short time later and took the suspect into custody.

In the days following this incident, the media swarmed our communications center and this story was used as a promotional to promote the text-to-911 system.

I am thankful that I was able to save a life that day, and this is something that telecommunicators do every single day. We must recognize their hard work in safeguarding the community.

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