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What Not To Do When There’s A Fire: 911 Dispatchers Help A Family Stay Out Of Harm’s Way

Death threats. Fires. Medical emergencies. Raccoons. 911 dispatchers help people through every kind of situation.

A dispatcher featured in 911 Crisis Center

When an Ohio mother of three kids received text messages threatening the life of her 13-year-old daughter, she called 911.

That call came into Chagrin Valley Dispatch, an emergency dispatch center featured in “911 Crisis Center,” airing Saturdays at 9/8c on Oxygen.

The text, the mother told a dispatcher, said that somebody was trying to kill her daughter. The caller then said somebody was knocking on her windows. 

Police were immediately sent to the address, and the dispatcher instructed the caller to keep everyone away from the windows. An officer arrived and took a report from the caller. It’s unknown if the suspect continued to contact the family.

Later in the shift, there was a call about a different domestic disturbance: “My husband just threatened to kill me,” a woman told a dispatcher. “He took my phone when he didn’t know I had another one. I always keep an emergency phone because you never know.”

The dispatcher instructed the caller to keep a distance between her and her husband as she waited for help to arrive.

Melinda featured in 911 Crisis Center

An officer spoke with both parties, and nothing physical occurred. The pair agreed not to press charges.

In addition to reports concerning a UFO, a “100-pound” raccoon, and a car being vandalized, multiple calls came in to report a house fire. Firefighters were quickly dispatched.

“The more firefighters we can get to the scene the faster they can tackle the fire,” said dispatcher Essence Sullins. “It is scary. Structure fires can get really bad really fast.”

The situation escalated when people returned to the house to rescue pets: “I gotta get my dogs,” a woman was heard yelling. Dispatcher Melinda Pilat firmly advised against that. “Everybody needs to remain out of the house,” she said. 

“It's just important that  … we do our jobs and make sure we tell them to stay out,” Pilat told producers. “Let the firemen get there and let the firemen do their job.”

Residents, including the dogs, made it out. One person suffered an asthma attack from the smoke and was treated by paramedics on the scene. 

The cause of the fire was determined to be a TV. The structure of the property was declared safe, so residents were allowed back into the house.

Later in the shift, Pilat took a call about an unresponsive 40-year-old man. “Does anyone there know CPR?” she asked, as she assured the caller that paramedics were on the way. “We’re gonna go through chest compressions until they get there.” 

She repeated the lifesaving process until help arrived, and the man was transported to the hospital for evaluation.

Like her fellow dispatchers, Pilat, who recently lost her father, acknowledged her job comes with stresses. “I take a moment to take a deep breath,” she said, “and I know my dad is there with me.”

To learn more about dispatchers and their calls, watch “911 Crisis Center,” airing Saturdays at 9/8c on Oxygen or stream episodes here.

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