As a normal Saturday starts, Myrissa and Zach are in dispatch. They are finishing up documentation on a few calls.

As the phone rings…

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

Caller: “I just got home I need help! There is something wrong my son, he is not acting right!”

Myrissa could tell that the caller was very emotional and distraught. Along with the address, phone number and the caller’s name Myrissa obtained that a mom was calling for her 16-year-old son for a medical emergency. Zach immediately mapped the address to start dispatch of an ambulance.

Myrissa: “Tell me exactly what happened.”

Sherry: “Well he is just kinda sitting in his chair and not talking right, he is not making any sense. He has his game controller in his hand, but I turned the computer off and he still thinks he is playing.”

Myrissa: “Is he awake?”

Sherry: “Yes, well kinda.”

Myrissa: “Is he alert?”

Sherry: “No, it is like he can’t tell that I am talking to him. Please hurry and just get here.”

Myrissa: “Ma’am, we do have an ambulance on the way, my partner has already advised them. I have a few more questions for you while they are on the way. Is he breathing normal for him?”

Sherry: “Yes – well a little faster than normal, maybe.”

Myrissa: “Does he have any medical conditions?”

Sherry: “No, he is healthy”

Myrissa: “When did this start?”

Sherry: “I am not sure; he was still asleep this morning when I left for work. I texted him about an hour ago and he said he was playing games online. My daughter said he has been in his room all day. I have only been gone a few hours, I just had to help cover a shift this morning.”

Myrissa: “How old is your daughter?”

Sherry: “14, but she is fine. I am calling for my son can someone just come out here?”

Myrissa: “Can you ask her if she noticed anything different with him today?”

Sherry: “She said he ate cereal this morning then went back to his room. She has been doing her stuff in and out of her room also. They are teenagers and don’t spend the most time together.”

Myrissa: “I understand. Can you tell if he has had any injuries anywhere?”

Sherry: “No he seems to be fine, no blood or bumps. Oh my, what could it be? Can you please just help him?”

Myrissa: “It is frightening, and help is on the way. Is there any possibility that he has taken any drugs or alcohol?”

Sherry: “No! How dare you ask something like that! We don’t have that stuff in this house!” My son is sick, and you want to jump to that conclusion so fast.”

Myrissa: “No ma’am, I am not jumping to a conclusion. These are questions that we must ask to help your son the best we can. Does he take any prescribed medication daily?

Sherry: “No, I told you he was healthy. Oh, Rudy! He is throwing up; hurry get here now!”

Myrissa: “Turn him on his side the best you can so he does not choke.”

Sherry: “Just get here! His eyes are closed and he will not open them!”

Myrissa: “Sherry, there is help coming as fast as they can. Did you get him on his side?”

Sherry: “Yes, he is no longer vomiting.”

Myrissa: “Sherry, I know it is a difficult time, but I need you to listen to me and do exactly what I say. Look in his mouth and make sure there is nothing in there.”

Sherry: “OK, it is empty nothing is in there.”

Myrissa: “How is his breathing?”

Sherry: “It is slowing down, but I think it is too slow – this doesn’t seem right. He isn’t opening his eyes at all.”

Myrissa: “I want you to keep watching how his breathing, let me know if it changes anymore. Right now, do not move him anymore. Try to calm your voice down, take a few deep breaths. You are doing a great job. Keep talking to him, he may be able to hear you. Tell him you have help on the way and try to keep him calm.”

Sherry: “OK. What should I say to him?”

Myrissa: “Just talk to him let him know you are there, and help is on the way. Your voice will help keep him calm. I am right here on the line with you, my partner is updating the ambulance and they will be prepared when they get there. You stay right there with Rudy and ask your daughter to show the ambulance in when they get there. 

Myrissa is talking to Sherry, along with listening to her talk to her son, expressing her love for him and begging him not to leave her. Zach was updating the responding ambulance. After the update the ambulance crew requested a helicopter to the address. Zach was able to contact the closest medical helicopter service and gave them instructions to the scene. He also contacted the local fire department. The fire department plays a key part as they respond to the scene to secure an area for the helicopter to land safely.

Once the ambulance crew arrived on scene, they took over care for Rudy.

This call was only 12 minutes, from the fist ring until the ambulance arrived on scene. All aspects of this call fell into place perfectly. Mom was able to recognize her son’s need for help. Myrissa did not assume that it was just a teenager that may have been experimenting with drugs or alcohol. She kept asking the questions and talking to mom knowing it could be many things. Zach quickly dispatched the needed field responders, while relaying important information. The closest helicopter was available, and the fire department was quickly on scene. It turned out that the paramedic was a distant neighbor. The field that the helicopter landed in belonged to the fire chief and one of the crew members from the helicopter was very familiar with the area as they once worked for the ambulance service and lives in Texas County. 

For every call that is made for help there is a 9-1-1 first responder at the ready to answer. Texas County may be the largest land area in the state, but the sense of community is unbeatable, especially in time of need. The flawless interaction between multiple agencies happens every day, most will never notice until they must make that dreaded call. 

*This is only a similarity call. It is not a verbatim call that has taken place.  

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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