Outside all the decorations are going up, candy is being sorted and goodie bags are being filled.

This day is looked forward to by dispatch just as much as all the little ones waiting for the outing. Halloween can be very exciting and fun but like all other days there will also be emergencies. Dispatch takes and handles many calls including some of the ones highlighted below on this thrilling day.  

02:00 Phone rings…

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

Caller: “I am home alone; I think someone is outside of my house.”

Dispatch was able to determine the caller’s location and that she was a 17-year-old home alone for the night. Police were dispatched as the dispatcher stayed online with the caller. This address was in the southern most part of the county. The dispatcher instructed the caller what to do until police arrived, putting the safety of the caller at the forefront. Ten minutes into the call the caller reported that the person was now at her window tapping on it. Then, the caller screamed the phone dropped to the ground leaving the line open. Dispatch could hear muffled voices. All this information was relayed to the responding deputy, that was driving lights and sirens. After many attempts to get the caller back on the line the caller finally stated that all was ok. It was just a couple friends playing tricks on her. Dispatch asked many questions to confirm the safety and relayed information to the deputy. The deputy was not to far away and continued to the scene to talk with the caller.

08:15 phone rings…

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

Caller: “This is not an emergency, but could you tell me if there will be Trick-or-Treating tonight?”

Dispatcher: “You will have to check with your local city. We do not have information for all the areas, this is an emergency line.”

08:25 phone rings…

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

Caller: “Help, my daughter is choking!”

Dispatcher: “Where are you?”

Caller: “Hurry! She has candy stuck and she is barely breathing!”

Dispatch was able to talk to mom calming her down, obtaining the address. Medical crews were sent while the dispatcher provided instruction to help the choking child. Mom was great and was able to follow precisely and dislodge the candy. Medical crews arrived moments later and took over care.

10:23 phone rings…

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

Caller: “We are out here at the farm. We were cleaning up around the place and the trash pile got out of control, we need the fire department before it gets to the woods.”

Dispatcher: “Where is your farm at? What is the address?”

This caller was not able to give an address as they had no address assigned to the farm. They did not live there so did not think they needed one. Dispatch was able to talk with them and get directions including the closest crossroad. The fire department was quickly notified, and they were arriving on scene with in seventeen minutes of the call. By this time three acres had already burned, and it did reach the wood line. With the assistance of another department the fire was contained and extinguished.

11:29 phone rings…

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

Caller: “Can you tell me if they will be handing out candy downtown tonight?”

Dispatcher: “In Houston, yes. I need to release this line; it is for emergency calls only.”

13:59 phone rings…

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

Caller: “Help! She took my shoe!”

The dispatcher was able to recognize that this was a young caller. The child kept saying that she took her shoe. Dispatch tried to get them to take the phone to an adult. This call was seven minutes long, the address was obtained through the mapping system. An officer was sent, and dispatch kept talk to the child. They were reluctant to take the phone to any adult. Then grandma got on the phone, she apologized not realizing the little ones had gotten the phone. As the officer was pulling into the driveway, she was explaining that all was okay, and the twins were wanting to wear each other’s shoes. The officer was able to make contact and confirm all was okay.

14:33 phone rings…

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

Caller: “115 East Main Street. I am not feeling well, I am sorry to bother you, but I don’t have a ride and maybe if the ambulance can stop by when they have moment.”

Dispatch talked to the caller obtained all the needed information. This caller was a 58-year-old they were having some discomfort in their back and jaw. Medical crews were quickly dispatched as pre-arrival instructions were given. The ability to relay information in real time is one of the many life saving skills, that show how dispatch is a golden link between the caller and responding units.

The average number of calls that ring into dispatch on Halloween for the last three years is 106. Not all being emergency calls. Including calls similar to the ones listed above dispatch also handles multiple traffic stops, additional radio traffic and wrong or accidental 9-1-1 dials. These often happen at the same time of an emergency call. Involvement does not end when the phone hangs up. Dispatch still has responders that are kept track of ensuring location and safety. While also conducting documentation of each call. 

On behalf of Texas County 9-1-1, we would like to wish all a Happy Halloween. Remember to be mindful of all responders that spend their day helping the communities. On your evening out, be sure to stop by the 9-1-1 office for a chance to meet the great heroes handing out goodie bags.

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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