9-1-1 for Kids “Heroes” Awards
Every year DEM and the 9-1-1 for Kids Public Education campaign partner to recognize and honor children who called 9-1-1 to save a loved one’s life, and the dispatcher who helped them. This year, the 9-1-1 for Kids Local Heroes Award ceremony took place April 10th at a ceremony in San Francisco City Hall.
Listed below are the stories of these courageous children and the dedicated San Francisco DEM Public Safety Dispatcher (PSD) who helped them.
PSD Edgar Velasco
“She has a really bad headache and not really talking to us and she is breathing a little bit,” said ten-year-old Tala Rahal in-between sobs. As the oldest of three children, Tala had to be there for her siblings and her mom.
October 25th at 8:25 PM ten year old Tala Rahal called 9-1-1 requesting a medical response for her mother who was having a severe headache, semi conscious and shallow breathing. Tala’s call for help was answered by Public Safety Dispatcher Edgar Velasco. Throughout their contact Edgar provided assistance and compassion to her and her two younger siblings. Edgar gave assurances that help was on the way and reminded Tala that she was doing a great job helping her mother. Together Edgar and Tala worked to help get her mother the help she needed.
PSD Kim Tuyay
“The ceiling just fell on my mom and I’m really scared,” eleven-year-old Kieontay told 9-1-1. “Just me and my baby brother are here.” As frightened as Kieontay was he had to take care of his mom and his four-month-old brother.
On September 30th at 6:49 PM eleven year old Kieontay Brown called 9-1-1 requesting an ambulance for his mother who was unconscious after being hit on the head by a falling object. Kieontay’s 9-1-1 call was answered by Public Safety Dispatcher Kim Tuyay. During their call Kim provided medical instruction, assistance, and most importantly comfort and reassurance to Kieontay. Together Kim and Kieontay worked to get medical assistance to his mother, who fully recovered from her injuries.
PSD Patrizia Marcucci
“Grandpa is having a little bit of asthma or something,” said a ten-year-old boy. “His palms are sweaty.” Grandpa was actually having a heart attack and the young boy was only person in the house that spoke English.
On March 4th at 6:25 PM Public Safety Dispatcher Patrizia Marcucci received a call from a ten year old boy named Jason who called 9-1-1 to report his grandfather was having an asthma attack. During this call Patrizia provided Jason medical instruction, assistance, and most importantly comfort and reassurance. There was an added level of difficulty for Patrizia because Jason was translating for adults who spoke only Chinese. Even under these difficult circumstances, Patrizia and Jason worked collaboratively to get medical assistance to Jason’s grandfather.
Patrizia has been a dispatcher with the City and County of San Francisco for seven years. When asked what she finds to be the biggest challenge of being a dispatcher, she says “It is the unknown. We don’t get to hear or see the final outcome to most of our calls. We just move on to the next call/emergency without never really having any resolution or closure.” With the 9-1-1 for Kids “Heroes” Awards, however, this is a special chance for dispatchers to reconnect and ‘meet’ the voice at the other end of the line.
PSD Dan Nguyen
“She’s feeling really tired and in a lot of pain,” said a fourteen-year-old girl. “I think she might be falling sleep.” The teen wasn’t sure what was happening but she knew her mom needed help.
On September 11th at 4:57 PM Public Safety Dispatcher Dan Nguyen received a call from a 14 year old girl saying she needed medical help for her mother. Dan quickly verified her address and phone number and provided her with medical instructions. Dan stayed on the line with the young girl and kept reassuring her that help was on the way. Dan’s compassionate tone and demeanor during this call helped the caller remain calm and provide assistance to her mother.
When asked what is the most important thing to keep in mind when assisting a child seeking assistance from a 9-1-1 dispatcher, Dan says to “to make sure the child knows to keep the dispatcher updated with any major changes that may occur while we were on the phone.” In this case, the most important information Dan wanted to know was if her mother was still breathing.
“I believe that the most important thing a dispatcher should keep in mind when helping a young caller is positive reinforcement” says Dan. “Letting a caller know that they’re doing the right thing and/or that they’re doing great can help the caller to focus on relaying life saving information.”