Roanoke County 911 dispatchers named Red Cross heroes

By Lindsey Ward - Anchor

When you call 911 you know someone is going to answer the phone and help.

This year’s Red Cross 911 Dispatch Heroes are the more than a dozen people working the evening a man collapsed on the side of a mountain while hiking.

"911 dispatch. Where is your emergency?” the dispatcher said.  

“We are actually in the trail of Dragon's Tooth and my boyfriend might be having a heart attack," said the caller.

The caller was 1 1/2 miles from the parking lot, when she called the Roanoke County’s dispatch center.

A man in his 60s was experiencing chest pains while hiking up Dragon’s Tooth Trail.

“He's had a history of heart attacks, so he knew what this pain felt like. So we went ahead and got our guys dispatched out, got our fire and rescue personnel started that way,” said Taylor Ralph, communications officer.

Taylor and the other dispatchers jumped into rescue mode, dispatching numerous crews, keeping the caller calm, alerting Lifeguard 10, even finding a place along Route 311 for the aircraft to land.

Despite a history of heart troubles the victim said this time was different.

“Ever have one before?” the dispatcher asked.

“Yes, he has. Yeah, he said this one is worse than that,” the caller replied.

While the victim waiting along the trail, crews were moving quickly to locate him.

“One of our chiefs knows the back of that mountain like he's been there his entire life,” Ralph said.

Dispatchers stayed on the phone for several hours, helping the heart attack victim.

 “By the time we got him to the bottom of the trail we had a pulse back and Lifeguard was able to fly him to the hospital and he was alive at that point, so we did our jobs. We got him there,” said Ralph.

It was certainly a team effort the whole way.

“I feel like every day we're all kind of heroes in some kind of way, because we're helping people. We're the first person that contacts these people and we're the first line of communication with these people that are calling 911 and I think that's completely amazing,” said Lexi Manning, communications officer.

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