SACRAMENTO - Answering a 911 call from a child can be very challenging for our California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) members who work at California Highway Patrol (CHP) Communications Centers, particularly when the child is on a cell phone and cannot tell the dispatcher where he or she is calling from.
That was the case January 4, 2015 when Jake Pritchard, 11, tried to help his dad by calling 911 after his dad fell off the side of a cliff. The boy's call came into CHP Public Safety Dispatcher Jennifer Gsell. Jake told Gsell he was in the mountains somewhere and his father was in need of rescuing. As the emergency call for help continued, Gsell contacted a Solano County dispatcher who went into detective mode and found the father's Facebook page in which a post had been made about their hike along Blue Ridge trail in Solano County.
On May 14, 2015, Gsell, the Solano County dispatcher and a team of CHP pilots were all awarded by 911 For Kids for their role in finding Jake and his father and rescuing the pair.
"CHP Public Safety Dispatchers handle 911 calls from children on a daily basis," said CHP Public Safety Dispatchers Association President and CSLEA Senior Vice President Tina Brazil. "It's one of the many stresses of the job. Often a child cannot articulate the nature or the location of the emergency and is very upset. We all have children, some of us grandchildren, of our own and all the while your heart is breaking for this child, you have to remain calm, matter of fact, piece together what information you can and get help out to them right away."
"It never ceases to amaze me the amount of information public safety dispatchers can take in at one time, process it, and dispatch officers to a scene," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona. "They are first responders who respond to emergencies by what they're being told, not anything they can see. More often than not, that adds to the difficulty and the emotional stresses of their jobs. They are true professionals in emergency response."
Congratulation to the entire team of first responders who assisted Jake Pritchard in January!