It is a busy day all around. Spring has started to show some signs of hello, and everyone is trying to get day to day objectives completed.
In dispatch today are three dispatchers. Only two minutes into their shift, Zach takes the first call for help.
As the phone rings…
Zach: “9-1-1, Where is your emergency?”
Caller: “Yes, hurry, I need someone here now!”
Zach: “Where are you?”
Caller: “Just get here! I am not sure what is wrong!”
Zach: “I will send help, but I need to know where you are. What road are you on?”
Caller: “We were talking on the phone. She wasn’t talking right so I came on over to check on her. I found her here in the recliner. I, um, I don’t know what her address is. She has the house that sets back in the wooden area.”
Zach: “Is she awake?”
Caller: “No, yes, I think so; she is just sitting here.”
Zach: “Is she breathing?”
Zach: “What is your name?”
Caller: “Sharon. It is my neighbor – my friend Mandy that needs help.”
Zach: “Look around see if there is any mail or maybe something posted by her door, for her address.”
Talking with the caller for another 45 seconds and checking with the mapping system in dispatch the location was determined. It was also identified by Sharon that her friend’s address was not on any mailbox at the end of the driveway. Thankfully, Sharon was able to give great directions and was able to advise about the color of the gate and that it was broken.
Zach: “How old is she?”
Sharon: “I am not sure; around 55, I think,”
Zach: “My partner has already dispatched everyone, and they are on the way. I do have a few more questions for you. Will she talk to you if you ask her a question?”
Sharon: “She is not saying anything; just sitting there.”
Zach: “What was she saying when you were on the phone with her?”
Sharon: “I was driving back from getting my pickup order and talking with her, I was going over my to do when I get home and well it was just ordinary stuff. Then I thought my Bluetooth was messing up, but it wasn’t and when I tried to focus on what she was saying nothing was making sense. I asked her if she felt OK and she told me to put the refrigerator on the couch.”
Zach: “Did she say anything about having any pain or feeling differently?”
Sharon: “No – well, I don’t think so anyway. Oh, I am so sorry I don’t know more.”
Zach: “Does she take any medications regularly, or drugs, that you know of?”
Sharon: “I don’t know, but she wouldn’t do drugs.”
Zach: “Do you know if she has any medical conditions?”
Sharon: “I don’t think so, she has been pretty healthy, she did have a back surgery last year but nothing since then, that I know of. I have not been over here much, but we usually talk on the phone about once a week. We have been neighbors for years, but we kinda of both became more recluse since this COVID.”
Zach: “Does it look like she has any injuries anywhere?”
Sharon: “No, she is still in her night clothes, and all looks fine.”
Zach: “Does she live alone or with family?”
Sharon: “She has lived alone since 2020, her husband passed away. Her daughter Maria, lives in Alaska. Oh, that is a great kid; so grown up and has a great life there, but she loves her momma. She was here a whole month with her when she had her back surgery.”
Zach: “Do you have her phone number? We can try to call her for some medical history.”
Sharon: “I do, but I tried to call her before I called you. With her work, she doesn’t always have access to her phone.”
Zach: “If you don’t care, tell me her name and number.”
The daughter’s information was obtained and Zach’s partner tried to call, but no answer.
Sharon: “It is like she is awake, but she isn’t; what do I do?
Zach: “Sharon you are doing all that you can do. I want you to keep checking on her make sure she is breathing OK and keep trying to talk to her. If there is any change, I want you to tell me as soon as you see it. Is there anything around there to show what she may have been doing? Was she eating or drinking anything?”
Sharon: “Just her glass of tea; it still has ice in it.”
Zach: “Do you know if she has been sick at all recently?”
Sharon: “No, I don’t think so, last week she was looking forward to getting started on her garden.”
Zach: Sharon, I want you to look at her face does it look normal and equal on both sides, any drooping on either side?”
Sharon: “It looks normal.”
Zach: “Is she a diabetic, or have any heart problems?
Sharon: “No, not that I know of. I feel so useless.”
Zach: “Sharon, you are doing great, the ambulance should be there shortly I am going to stay on the phone with you until they arrive.”
Sharon: “Something is wrong, I think she stopped breathing, oh what do I do? She isn’t breathing!”
Zach: “Sharon, I want you to listen carefully, and do exactly as I tell you. First, I want you to…”
As Zach was about to give Sharon further instructions to help the ambulance crew walked in the door. Zach was able to hear Sharon direct them to Mandy then the phone disconnected.
Two of the many realities that dispatchers must cope with is the two-sided unknown. Unknown of what happened to the person with calls like this or similar. Then the unknown of what happened once emergency help arrived and transported.
The questions I would leave you with is: If this happened to you or someone you love, will there be enough information for your friend, neighbor or even a visiting family member to tell dispatch your address and will responding emergency units to be able to find your residence?
The Texas County Emergency Services office in Houston is funded by a 3/8-cent countywide sales tax approved by voters in 2013. Director Terra Culley can be reached by phone at 417-967-5309 or by email at email@example.com.