Tiffany DeSpain, a dispatcher for Dyersburg 911 was recently awarded the prestigious 911 Medal of Honor for her part in saving a life. She is only the second dispatcher to receive the award.
DeSpain had been a dispatcher for almost six years when a call came in from a wireless phone. Despite being unable to clearly hear the call, noises heard in the background led DeSpain to believe the caller was in distress. She dispatched officers to the area the call came from while trying to obtain the actual address of the caller.
DeSpain managed to keep the caller on the line while officers tried to find the woman. She explained that she could hear the caller moaning so she stayed on the line. Because the call was wireless, the call could only be traced to a general area and police were forced to knock on doors in the neighborhood until finding the right home. “The officers told me to let them know if I could hear them knocking or ringing the doorbell over the phone, and I finally heard a knock,” said DeSpain.
She was able to find out the caller’s name and continued to call the name out over the phone and encourage the caller to hang on until help came.
The woman, whose name was not released, made a full recovery from a life-threatening situation thanks to the DeSpain’s tenacity and thoroughness.
Gloria Spence, Emergency Operations Manager, used the situation as a reminder to those callers who accidentally dial 911 to be sure to let the operator know that before hanging up. Dispatchers are required to follow-up on every single call and verify the emergency.
Spence also pointed out that 911 dispatchers go through extensive training, saying that DeSpain’s call was proof that the training does indeed work.