Since 911 dispatchers get such a large variety of calls, they never know what to expect. Fortunately, these professionals are highly trained to handle virtually every type of crisis imaginable that may unfold in real time over the phone.
Lackawanna County emergency dispatcher Dane Sorensen took a 911 call that he will never forget. A lady in Scranton called because her newborn baby’s heart monitor was beeping. Things went from bad to worse while she was on the line as the baby went unresponsive and stopped breathing.
As the father of a nine-month old baby himself, Sorensen took this call personally, but quickly put this behind him as his training kicked in. He used the series of cards that dispatchers have to instruct callers and read the prompts for infant CPR. The mother followed his instructions to check the baby’s airway and give gentle chest compressions. She followed his instructions to the letter, and remarkably her baby started breathing again before the police and EMS units arrived.
Sorenson was thrilled and told WNEP News that “It justifies my existence here in the 911 center.” This emergency dispatcher has a long history of public service. Sorenson served in the Army, is in the National Guard, and is currently training at the Lackawanna College Police Academy.
He had been working at the Lackawanna County Public Safety Center in Pennsylvania for about five months when the life-changing call came in. While Sorenson had answered a lot of emergency calls, he never had one like this before. Sorensen credited his coworkers who he refers to as “family” with helping him get through the call.
Lackawanna County dispatchers go through extensive training to prepare them for whatever medical emergency they may encounter. Each dispatcher takes a series of weeklong courses on such topics as emergency medical procedures and active shooter situations. The training varies depending on the dispatcher’s background, since many come in with previous military or law enforcement experience. Clearly, this county does an excellent job of training its dispatchers!