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In a recent episode, dispatcher Matt Reinke took a call from a frightened woman speaking in a whisper: She believed people were in her house. Police were dispatched immediately.
“I don’t know how many people there are,” she said in a hushed voice, adding she was upstairs in a room that didn’t lock.
“What I want you to do is get on the ground behind the bed,” said Reinke.
“Whenever there’s a home invasion somebody could get killed,” he told producers. “What runs in my mind every single time is that you run, hide, and fight.”
Had the caller heard footsteps coming toward her, Reinke was prepared “to get her ready to fight.”
That fortunately wasn’t needed. Police arrived and spoke with the caller; they found no intruders when they searched the residence.
Dispatchers also know that domestic violence calls can quickly escalate.
“The guy just punched my daughter in the face,” a woman called and told Abby Encarnacion, who determined that there were three men involved, and that the man who threw the punch was known to carry a gun.
“Whenever a weapon is involved, it’s obviously more dangerous,” said Encarnacion. Getting responders there as fast as possible was a must.
The caller reported that the men fled in a black vehicle, and a police car chase eventually turned into a foot pursuit. Two suspects were apprehended, but the third remained at large. The victim met with an officer to give a statement at the police station.
Another caller reported that her 11-year-old son was cut on the arm by an object that fell off of her refrigerator. “There’s blood everywhere,” she said.
By remaining calm, the dispatcher helped establish a bond and kept the mom from freaking out. She instructed the mother to wrap the wound with a towel and to apply pressure on the cut. Paramedics took the 11-year-old to the hospital, where he was treated; he was expected to make a full recovery.
In addition to life-and-death emergencies, dispatchers take calls that aren’t urgent. At Chagrin Valley, one such call concerned personal property — a boulder — that was returned to its owner.
To learn more about dispatchers and their calls, watch “911 Crisis Center,” airing Saturdays at 9/8c on Oxygen.
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