Local dispatchers named Red Cross 911 Heroes for coming together to bring woman home safely

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Roanoke County’s emergency communications center is inundated with calls on a daily basis.

When the phone rings, dispatchers kick into high gear.

“We mold together and we try to do everything as a team and it pays off sometimes,” said Beth Clemson, communications team supervisor for Roanoke County.

And that’s exactly what happened one day back in July.

The B Platoon was working when they got a call from a woman, saying her 78-year-old mother with Alzheimer’s was missing.

“She had just recently moved to a new area in the county from the city and she had taken her dog out on a walk that day and wasn’t able to get back home so the daughter called in after she had searched the neighborhood for her and was unable to find her,” said Taylor Ralph, communication coordinator for Roanoke County.

Dispatchers sprung into actions, sending police to search for her, getting the fire-rescue department to launch drones to search wooded areas contacting local hospitals and cab companies, entering her into the system as missing and sending messages to Roanoke City, Salem, Botetourt and Bedford counties just in case she was able to make it that far away.

All this, while comforting a daughter, who was distraught.

“I tell her that I’ve got the best people coming to her to assist her and that I have people who are going to help her,” said Clemson.

And she was right.

An hour and a half later and just over a mile and a half away from home, they found her.

“It was actually just the manpower on the ground that found her."

A process that oftentimes takes days, weeks, even months over in a matter of minutes.

“Everybody was hands-on, did something in the call and it was great when she was found so it made us all feel good.”

Not only did they help the woman return to her daughter safely, they also got her enrolled in project lifesaver — so if this ever happens again, they can find her even faster.

"I feel like we did our job.”

Through the power of teamwork, this team of dispatchers is now being honored as a team of heroes.

“This is what we do. We help people in their worst days that they could ever imagine and it’s good for us to be able to see the good outcome of it.”

“This is why we’re here is for those good outcomes so when we get them, we have to hang onto them.”

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