There are many different types of family plans, and the one I will be focusing on today is the after-school plan.

Do the kids know what to do when they arrive at home after school when no parents or guardians are home? Maybe your kids are a little older and being home alone for a little bit is normal. Do they know the plan if they get scared or think they heard or saw something? What if they get sick? What if the TV remote doesn’t work (yes, there has been a 9-1-1 call for this)?

It could be something that they feel is worthy of an emergency call. Rest assured, their call will be answered. Dispatch will stay on the phone with them and ask many questions. Dispatch will also try to help them in any way possible until someone gets there with them.

Is there always and adult home for the kids and you don’t think you need a plan? What if that adult became ill and even unconscious? What if you were running late from errands or there was a traffic issue that was going to only make you five minutes late. Those few minutes seem like a lifetime to a young one arriving home, and no one is there.

Here is an example of a call that is similar to many that dispatch have taken.

At 3:45 p.m., the phone rings in dispatch.

Dispatcher: “911, where is your emergency?”

Caller: “Hi, will you call my mom?  She’s not here.”

The dispatcher recognizes it is a younger child and will adjust questions accordingly.

Dispatcher: “What is your name?”

Caller: “Kaleb.”

Dispatcher: “How old are you?”

Kaleb: “Five, I went to school today, I have twenty-six-thirty friends.”

Dispatcher: “Wow that is a lot of friends, do you know your address?”

Kaleb: “No, but we live on the dirt part.”

Dispatcher: “Kaleb, did you ride the school bus home?”

Kaleb: “Yes.”

Dispatcher: “Do you know where your mom may have gone?

Kaleb: “No.”

Dispatcher: “What is your mom’s name?”

Kaleb: “Nancy.”

Dispatcher: “Kaleb, does your mom have a cell phone and do you know her phone number?

Kaleb: “Yeah, she does, but I don’t know the number; it is pink and has glitter on it.”

Dispatcher: “Where is your dad?

Kaleb: “At work. Paw Patrol is on!”

Dispatcher: “Where does he work?”

Kaleb: “He makes boxes.”

Dispatcher: “What is your dad’s name?

Kaleb: “George.”

Dispatcher: “Do you like Paw Patrol?”

Kaleb: “Yes.”

Dispatcher: “Kaleb, I need you to help me out. Can you do that?”

Kaleb: “Yes, but can I have my snack? It’s on the table.”

Dispatcher: “Yes, you can have your snack, but first can you look to see if there is any mail on the table or anywhere?”

Kaleb: “Woohoo! I got apple slices and Oreos!”

As Kaleb is eating his snack, the dispatcher continues to talk with him. There was no mail laying out to help. Dispatch may ask him or any child, questions that would include some or all the following:

What is your dad’s phone number?

Is your mom’s car home?

Do you have any siblings?

Do you know your dad’s work number?

Is your address on your house or mailbox?

What color is your house?

Do you have family that lives near you?

In this situation,  the dispatcher kept talking to Kaleb. Along with a few vague answers from Kaleb and the mapping system in dispatch, his location was determined. Immediately an officer was started. As the dispatcher kept talking to Kaleb trying to get more information. A second dispatcher called two different locations that make boxes before locating dad. While the second dispatcher was talking with Kaleb’s dad and the officer was on the way, Kaleb’s mom walked in the door. Dispatch talked to mom and advised of the situation. Everything was fine. Mom was across the way at the neighbor’s house helping with some cows. Dad was updated and the officer was canceled. Dispatch talked with Kaleb one last time before hanging up. Kaleb updated the dispatcher of the Paw Patrol episode, and he was almost finished with his snack. The dispatcher told him what a great job he did on the phone.

This call example all took place within 10 minutes, it is just one of many of what could happen.

As I have stated before, and will say again and again, have your address marked and visible for emergency responders. Have your contact information in a safe location where the whole family knows where it is. It is a great idea to place your address by the front door, outside and even on the inside. If a child is not sure of their address, they can probably read the numbers and letters to a dispatcher. For almost all of Texas County, there will be a number followed by a road name.

Does your family know the plan?

The Texas County Emergency Services office in Houston is funded by a 3/8-cent countywide sales tax approved by voters in 2013. Assistant director Terra Culley can be reached by phone at 417-967-5309 or by email at terraculley911@hotmail.com.

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