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9-1-1 dispatcher helps save woman trapped in trunk of moving car

Date: 2017-01-26
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 A quick-thinking North Carolina emergency dispatcher led police to locate a woman trapped inside the trunk of a car - by texting her cellphone back after her voice call was disconnected.

- story & image via WRAL.com  

On Jan. 14, supervisor Tim Medlin of the Johnston County (NC) 9-1-1 Communications received a cellular 9-1-1 call from a woman who said she was locked in the trunk of a moving car by her jealous boyfriend. Medlin said it was hard to understand her. "The only thing we knew is it was a female that was very upset, and that she was in the trunk of the car," he was quoted in a story posted at WRAL.com.

The call was quickly disconnected; Medlin’s attempts to call her back were unsuccessful. Then he had the idea to text her from a cell phone – and she responded back.

"Texting, it was the only way I knew we would probably not get her in trouble," Medlin told WRAL.com. "When I sent a simple text, 'Can you text?' She responded, 'Yes.' The immediate response after that was, 'Help me.'"

The woman provided Medlin with a description of the vehicle, and texted that she believed she was headed to Fayetteville. Medlin notified the Cumberland County Sheriff's office, which contacted Verizon Wireless, which provided a current location for the woman’s phone. Once they had that, Fayetteville police spotted the car, rescued the woman, and arrested the boyfriend.

Jason Barbour, Johnston County's 9-1-1 director, stated that 9-1-1 centers can receive text messages but are not able to initiate them, something he says needs to change. "This is a prime example of technology being used to the fullest at someone's greatest time of need," Barbour told WRAL. "We can only receive texts and then text back one another. We can't start the conversation. So that was the problem."

Read full story and watch video report on WRAL.com

- People, Places & Things/9-1-1magazine.com (via WRAL, 1/23/17)

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