It’s never too early to learn ‘9-1-1’ |

It’s never too early to learn ‘9-1-1’

by Sheila Gardner

When a 911 call comes in to the Douglas County Communications Center, the dispatcher who answers must be ready to respond to whomever is on the other end of the line.

On Jan. 11, it was 3-year-old Gracie Goss who called to report an emergency with her mother, Catherine Goss.

Public Safety Dispatcher 2 Tammy Adamson answered the call and was able to elicit information from the little girl which aided in dispatching rescue personnel.

“It was my last call of the day,” Adamson said. “You never know what the next call is going to be. You have to be ready.”

The story of Gracie illustrates two points for 911 Manager Ron Sagen: The importance of education and teamwork.

“I am confident any one on our staff would have done equally well,” Sagen said. “The teamwork is phenomenal. We all fall together, we all rise together. When I realized it was a 3-year-old, I said, ‘Whoa.'”

Cmmunity outreach for the communications center includes a public education group for children and adults.

Adamson is part of a team that has been in all the county’s private schools to teach the right way to use the emergency system.

The group will be visiting Douglas County public schools grades kindergarten through eighth this year to teach the correct and appropriate times to call 911.

The public is invited to the facility in Minden.

“Anyone is invited down for a walk-through of the facility,” Sagen said. “It’s important for people to see how the whole thing works.

Gracie’s ability to make the 911 call reinforces for dispatchers that even the youngest child can be taught to properly use the system.

Gracie had been taught earlier that day by her mother.

Dealing with a child who calls in an emergency takes a special touch, said Administrative Supervisor Nonie McCandless.

“When a child is in this situation, they’re upset. It’s in our nature to want to find out what’s going on, but we have to be careful that we’re not concentrating too much on what’s happening on the other end, or it further upsets the child,” she said. “Tammy handled it just right. You have to address the child as they are.”

Adamson said Gracie’s call also illustrates the importance of a landline telephone.

“I wasn’t able to get the address out of her,” she said.

The county’s enhanced 911 program flashes the address of the caller on a screen which cuts crucial seconds out of response time.

Adamson said Gracie’s call has encouraged her to teach her own 3-year-old.

“It taught me a lot. I would never have thought to try to teach her (daughter) to call, but I will now. If a 3-year-old can do it, anybody can,” Adamson said.

Adamson gives all the credit to Gracie.

“She did awesome,” Adamson said. “She made the call. I was the lucky one who answered the phone.”