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Crime News 911 Crisis Center

'911 Crisis Center' Dispatchers Aid In Home Hostage Situation: What Happened

On a recent episode of "911 Crisis Center," dispatchers handle a woman in labor, a hostage showdown, a residential fire, and more “wild stuff.”

By Joe Dziemianowicz
Dispatchers featured in 911 Crisis Center

At Chagrin Valley Dispatch, an emergency communications center in Ohio, each shift brings a series of challenges. 

How to Watch

Catch up on 911 Crisis Center on Peacock or the Oxygen App.

On a recent episode of “911 Crisis Center,” airing Saturdays at 9/8c on Oxygen, dispatcher Jessica Merkosky handled her first call from a woman in labor. 

Merkosky quickly determined that the caller was 19 years old and 38 weeks into her pregnancy. Her boyfriend and daughter were with her. Although her water had not broken, she was having contractions. 

“I want you to lay on your back and just try to relax,” she told the caller. “I do not want you to push. Don’t try to push, but also don't prevent the birth, OK?”

To help the woman stay calm, the dispatcher asked the caller if she knew if she was having a boy or a girl. Then she asked if she’d chosen a name. 

The mother was transported to the hospital when paramedics came. Whether she delivered the baby upon arrival or at a later date is unknown.

For Matt Reinke, the day marked his first one as dispatch supervisor. He said he was determined to do a great job and earn the respect of colleagues, including ones who’ve been there longer than him.

“There’s a fine line to walk between respecting their years of service and still having to be the boss,” he said. 

An alarming report that came in tested him. A woman was being held captive at a home.

“The police have surrounded the residence at this point,” said Reinke. “There are a lot of unknowns right now.”

The goal was to keep both the victim and the suspect from harm, he added: “We’re just trying to figure out as much information as we possibly can and keep the situation from escalating.”

Police secured the perimeter and the situation was resolved with no one hurt. 

Related: What It Means When 911 Dispatchers Are In ‘The Loop’ — And How They Handle It

The victim was granted a temporary protection order against the male. He pled no contest to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct and was ordered to attend psychiatric evaluation anger management therapy. 

Later, multiple callers reported a fire on the porch of a residence. Because homes are located close together in areas of the city, fires can spread quickly, said dispatcher Ashley Welch.

Firefighters were sent to the address, and dispatchers instructed residents to leave the house to get out of harm’s way. 

Reinke, who still handles 911 calls as a supervisor, confirmed that all people and pets were safely outside. Due to the extent of the damage, the Red Cross was contacted.

Firefighters extinguished the fire within minutes, and the Red Cross provided temporary housing for the family. No one was hurt.

Later in the shift, Reinke picked up a call from a 62-year-old woman with COPD, which causes constriction of airways. She reported that she was having trouble breathing and had no rescue inhalers that worked at home.

The caller was taken to the hospital and received treatment. She was able to return home. 

Dispatcher Steven Schieferstein answered a call from a man who said three individuals dressed in black tried to rob him. He said he ran away and that the trio had guns. 

After some back and forth, the caller finally told the dispatcher that he’d been shot on the right side of his hip.

Paramedics transmitted the victim to the hospital. He was expected to make a full recovery. Officers searched for suspects, but none were found.

 “My advice for somebody calling 911 is to start with the most serious problem first, like, ‘I’m shot,’” said Schieferstein after the call.

Reinke took stock of his first day as supervisor, noting it was a hectic shift.

“Overall I think today went really well,” he said. “We had some wild stuff.” 

To find out more about what dispatchers do, watch “911 Crisis Center,” airing Saturdays at 9/8c on Oxygen or stream episodes here.

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