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'911 Crisis Dispatcher' Explains What To Do When Someone Is Choking

On the latest episode of "911 Crisis Center," dispatchers juggle calls about a restaurant brawl, urban roadkill, shots fired, and a choking emergency.

Steve featured in 911 Crisis Center

At Chagrin Valley Dispatch, an Ohio emergency dispatch agency, reports of crises come in from all over the area — including Red Lobster.

In a recent episode of “911 Crisis Center,” airing Saturdays at 9/8c on Oxygen, multiple callers reported that a violent brawl had broken out at the seafood chain: “It’s like a group of 30 people fighting each other,” a woman said.

Police and EMS were dispatched. 911 operators checked to see if any weapons — guns, knives, baseball bats — were seen.

“I think there’s a gun, I’m not sure,” said a caller. 

Dispatchers soon learned that a person had been injured.

“How angry is this crowd?” a Chagrin Valley staffer said. “Are our officers going to be ambushed? It just can go so wrong in so many ways.”

In the end, no arrests were made and no weapons were found. Witnesses told officers that an ex-employee, not customers, started the fight. Another suspect was believed to have knocked out the manager. 

Jennifer featured in 911 Crisis Center

Meanwhile, rookie dispatcher Steven Schieferstein, a former EMT and police officer, began his shift with a call from the sister of a man with mental health issues. He was trying to strangle himself, she told him. 

“My mom’s trying to take the cord from around his neck,” the panicking caller said, adding that her brother was fighting to keep help away. “Can you hurry up and get here?” 

Schieferstein assured the caller that help was on its way. He also confirmed that the man was breathing. Officers arrived and accompanied the man to the hospital for evaluation and treatment. 

Later a call came in from a woman about a dispute at a gas station that quickly escalated. She told dispatchers she believed she had been struck by a bullet. 

Dispatchers learned that the caller knew the alleged shooter.

“It’s more dangerous because there's clearly something personal between them,” said dispatcher Tiffany Ward. “It immediately raises the stakes way higher.” 

Officers got the caller out of her car, which had been struck by gunfire. The suspect fled the scene.

A life-and-death call also from a man whose friend was unresponsive. 

EMTs were dispatched as Schieferstein tried to get the victim’s medical history. “He looks like he’s choking and he’s turning blue,” the panicky caller said. 

The dispatcher guided the caller through CPR, instructing him in how to perform chest compressions until help got there. “He’s breathing. He’s breathing now,” the caller said. 

EMTs administered Narcan to the man, who was transported to the hospital for further treatment and survived.

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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