In part one of our special report, “Lives on the Line” we highlighted the struggles 911 dispatchers face.
While it’s a difficult job, in one dispatcher’s words, there are those calls that make it all worthwhile. One of those calls involved a young Morton girl whose mother suffered a life-threatening seizure.
Despite being just 8 years old at the time, when Bella Robinson’s Mom suffered a medical episode, she knew just what to do.
It all started on a cold, snowy day last January. Bella wanted to play outside, but first her mom, Gina, wanted to clear the sidewalks and driveway.
“I started shoveling and I felt something wasn’t right,” Gina shares.
Gina says she recalls trying to reach the steps, but never made it.
“I don’t remember. I just fell. And so, when they found, me I was laying on my side, on the ground, on the snow.”
“And I noticed she was out there a long time and I went outside to see what she was doing and I didn’t see her,” Bella adds.
That’s when Bella raced around the front of the house and found her mother lying on the ground, unresponsive.
“She said she tried to shake me and said, ‘Mommy, mommy,’ you know. And there was snow on me, and she wasn’t getting a response. So, she said she went right back inside and got my cell phone,” Gina describes.
“I grabbed the phone and I dialed 911,” chimes in Bella.
Jason Potter was the Tazewell County dispatcher who answered that call.
“So, I had her check on her mom to see if she was breathing and she didn’t see that she was breathing. And she gave me her address, and she did really good about giving me all the information I needed at the time,” recalls Potter.
It was information fellow telecommunicator Lindsey Cash used to radio for help.
“I was listening to his call so I just took the initiative and went ahead and got officers and medics en route,” adds Cash.
And when police arrived, Bella followed dispatchers’ instructions and stood by her mother, waving her arms so they could find her in the falling snow.
While Gina says she doesn’t remember any of this, she was later told officers couldn’t find a pulse, prompting them to begin CPR.
They were efforts that ultimately saved her life.
“She’s my hero, and so are the first responders, and the people on the phone,” Gina exclaims, choking back tears. “They were so nice to her. She told me they were so nice to her on the phone, they made her feel good. You know, not to worry, they’re going to be there, and just talked to her.”
Finally, 10 months after it happened, the Robinsons got to thank those dispatchers face to face.
On Tuesday, they met for the first time at the 911 for Kids awards ceremony in Chicago, where Bella, Potter and Cash were all recognized for their roles in helping save a life that night.
For the Robinsons and local dispatchers this proved to be a call with a happy ending.
“It’s difficult sometimes. You know, you have the bad ones, but then you have the good ones that turn out really good like this. So, it makes it worthwhile for sure,” states Potter.
At that same awards ceremony, a 7 year old girl from McLean County was also recognized for calling 911 and saving her mother, along with the dispatcher who took that call.
While these stories serves as an example of the help dispatchers provide, those involved say it’s also a reminder of the importance of teaching children to memorize their address and how to call 911.