The job of a 911 dispatcher is to field calls from people who are either in some form of anguish or distress themselves or who are witness to someone else’s distress.
With all of the dispatchers throughout any given municipality or jurisdiction, one has to wonder what the odds are that one of these dispatchers would field a call from one of their own family members. It certainly seems unlikely and yet that is exactly what happened to one dispatcher in Marysville, California recently. Britney Melchor was in the middle of training a new employee on taking 911 calls when one of the calls that came in to was from her husband.
Melchor’s husband had dialed the emergency line to report that the couple’s son was choking and needed immediate medical assistance. He had swallowed a small metal washer that had become dislodged from a chair in their home and according to Mr. Melchor the child was turning blue. The veteran dispatcher did not recognize her husband’s voice initially and began treating the call like any other, informing the caller that a medical EMT team was en route. But when the caller gave the address of where they needed to go, Melchor obviously recognized it as her own right away.
Melchor reports having been in shock when she heard the address repeated a second time, but says she knew she had to maintain her composure and continue performing her job, admittedly with a bit of added sense of urgency. According to Mr. Melchor, the 1-year-old had gone limp and was not breathing and with some medical training from years past, Mr. Melchor was able to dislodge the object from his son’s throat and clear the boy’s airway. EMTs arrived about that time and took him to the hospital where doctors took an X-Ray of the item inside his stomach.
Britney Melchor has been recognized by the Marysville Police and by city officials for her ability to maintain her composure and perform her job at a high level despite obvious and understandable emotional distress.