The days have been long and hot.

However, the world does not stop. Throughout the area people are taking care of the tasks at hand. One task in particular is making the yard safe for the young ones to play.

Inside dispatch they have already answered three calls for field fires, three separate accidents, two heat related illnesses, a fight in progress at the river, and two prank calls. This is only three hours into the shift. They have a second to get caught up on documentation and try to grab a snack.

The phone rings…

Dispatcher: “9-1-1, where is your emergency?”

Caller: “My dad don’t feel good, and he is sleeping outside!”

Dispatcher: “Where are you?”

Caller: “At home, we are in the back by the pool.”

Dispatcher: “What is your name? How old are you?”

Caller: “Blake; I am five. Can you come help him?”

Dispatcher: “Hello Blake, my name is Barb. We are going to send help for your dad. Can you tell me your address?

Blake: “Umm, it is on gravel roadway.”

Barb: “Is there anyone else there with you?

Blake: “No, my mom went to grandma’s house. I tried to call her but her phone don’t work there.”

Barb: “Do you know the numbers that are in your address? Maybe they are on your mailbox or on the front of your house?

Blake: “My mom painted some numbers on a big rock she had dad put by the road.”

Barb: “Can you read those numbers to me?”

Blake: “Sure, I am five now I can say my ABC’s and write my name!”

Barb: “That is great! Can you walk around there and tell me what they are?

Barb talked with Blake, and thanks to his great work of reading the numbers and the mapping system the exact location was determined. Once the address was determined an ambulance, first responders from the fire department and law enforcement were dispatched.

Barb: “Blake can you tell me what your dad is doing?”

Blake: “He is just sitting there in the chair, asleep. I told him to wake up or he would get sunburned again.”

Barb: “Blake, is your dad breathing?”

Blake: “Yes, his belly keeps going up and down, he makes funny noises when he sleeps.”

Barb: “Blake will you try and wake him up?”

Blake: “I will try; but he wouldn’t a while ago. Dad, wake up! Dad! He won’t – he is just sleeping. His belly has a lot of spots on it.”

Barb: “What was your dad doing before he went to sleep?”

Blake: “He was taking down the hornet nest by the shed. He wouldn’t let me help; he said I would get stung if they got mad. But I would have just slapped them away if they came close.”

Barb: “Does your dad take any medicine?”

Blake: “Yes, he takes it in the morning and then later.”

Barb: “Do you know why he takes it?”

Blake: “Because his body hates sugar. Mom said he could only eat a small amount of my birthday cake and ice cream yesterday. It wasn’t even sugar, it was just cake.”

Barb: “Is your dad a diabetic?”

Blake: “No, he is a farmer.”

Barb: “Can you tell me your mom’s phone number?”

Blake: “It is the one with her picture on dad’s phone. I don’t have a phone yet; mom said I was too young. But I know how to work them and play games on it. Are you coming to help dad?”

Barb: “I am not coming there, but there is an ambulance, fire department and officer coming as fast as they can. Blake you are doing a great job at helping your dad, he will be so proud.”

Blake: “I hear sirens! They are noisy!”

Barb: “That is going to be an officer; they are going to help you also.”

Blake: “Oh there he is! It is a cop! Wow, there are lights on the car!”

Barb: “Blake, stay here on the phone with me until he is out there with you.”

Blake: “He is here.”

Barb: “OK, I want you to talk with him. Blake, you have done a fantastic job!”

What happened behind the scenes of this conversation and after?

Barb was able to continue to talk with Blake because her partner, Hope, dispatched the needed responders. Usually, law enforcement is not dispatched to a medical call unless there is reason or special circumstances such as this. Hope also knew that this officer was in the area of this emergency. The officer was able to communicate with dispatch updates on dad’s condition and it was relayed to the responding medical crews. The first responders from the fire department arrived on scene about five minutes after the officer. They were able to assist and relay even more information to the responding ambulance which arrived about seven minutes after them. Blake was able to show the officer mom’s phone number and she was contacted.

Part of the struggle for dispatch is the knot knowing or having the closure. What happened to dad? Was he a diabetic? Or did he have an allergic reaction to possible hornet stings? Or was it heat related? Once the phone hangs up and responders are on scene dispatch may never know the outcome. In this case we do know that dad was transported to the hospital, but nothing beyond that as with many calls.

Never underestimate the knowledge and skill of even the younger children. Barb knew how to restructure questions for Blake to understand, he was great and able to help relay information. Even if they cannot read, maybe they can recognize letters and numbers. I recommend having a designated place in the house that has the address and phone number(s) written out.

Go over the information with each family member at different times as part of the family 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

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