911 Operators: Don't hang up

Posted: Updated:

After a Tucson child almost drowned over the weekend, 911 dispatchers want to send an important message to the public. Don't hang up. Listening to emergency officials can mean life or death.

"Is anyone pinned or trapped in the vehicles?"

In any emergency call, the first few seconds are critical. Dispatchers not only send help. They also hold the keys to saving a loved one.

"We can do the Heimlich Maneuver if somebody's choking, we've delivered babies," Sandy Innes with the City of Tucson Dispatch Center says everyone can learn a lesson from a near drowning incident last Saturday at an apartment complex pool.

According to the Tucson Fire Department, the person who called 911 hung up before the dispatcher could give instructions to help the child victim. When medics arrived, however, someone was already performing CPR.

"OK, is she breathing?"

"OK, I want you to stay on the line with me while help is on the way."

Dispatchers also want to warn you about certain signals that may lead you to believe the call is over.

"We are answered by 911 operators who are going to triage your call then they're going to send it, if it's law enforcement to Tucson Police dispatch so they're going to hear clicks it's going to sound like they're disconnected."

Innes says the most important thing is to stay on the phone, "They can go unconscious any time during that call and we then have to change our focus. We have to be that vital link."