That's exactly what happened to 2nd grader Kaille Mangan, but she still found the strength to call 911.
The 7 a.m. shift Wednesday, Jan. 30 began like most at the 911 dispatch center in the middle of an Ozarks winter -- calm and essentially uneventful.
"The biggest problems we thought we would face that morning, in addition to routine service calls, included getting a quick break for breakfast and making sure someone made coffee," says Springfield-Greene County 911 telecommunicator Daphne Dauzat.
Three minutes into the shift, everything changed.
Seven-year-old Kailee Mangan called 911 from a cell phone. She, her 5-year-old brother Wyatt, and her mom's boyfriend had been in a car crash. Kailee and her brother were both injured and terrified. She was afraid her mom's boyfriend, the driver of the car, was seriously hurt or dead (he was unconscious) and she didn't know their location.
Telecommunicator Stacey Blair, a six-year 911 veteran and mother of three, took Kailee's call that morning.
"When a 911 dispatcher gets a call like this - an upset child involved, terribly traumatized and unsure of their location - the burden of locating and reassuring them falls to us," Dauzat says.
Blair's training and experience immediately kicked in. She located the scene of the accident, requested emergency medical response and kept Kailee talking. Blair reassured Kailee that help was on its way.
With Blair's help, Kailee remained calm and provided useful information about the accident and injuries until help arrived. Within seven minutes, firefighters were administering CPR and removing Kailee and her family from the vehicle. Blair stayed on the line with Kailee until police arrived within a few minutes of the fire department.
"I wanted to make sure there was a connection between the officer and her before we hung up. I didn't want to get off the phone until I knew someone was there with her," Blair said.
Once Blair knew that Kailee would be OK, she began concluding the call so Kailee could receive medical attention. Then, Kailee took the seasoned 911 telecommunicator by surprise. She told her she loved her.
"I will never forget, as long as I live, the look on Stacey's face as she heard this. She hesitated, and then replied, 'I love you too, honey.' Stacey disconnected, put her face in her hands and cried," Dauzat says. "It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen."
Fortunately, Kailee, her little brother, and the driver of the vehicle, had only minor injuries as a result of the accident.
Dauzat was so touched by the experience that she submitted a narrative to the Missouri Chapter of the National Emergency Number Association (MoNENA). The organization recognized Kailee with the 2013 Century Link Hero Award at its annual banquet March 19 at Tan-Tar-A. The award honors those 12 and under who utilize 911 services.
Blair, Dauzat, 911 Director Zim Schwartze and other 911 staff were able to meet Kailee and her family at the meeting banquet and were happy to see that they were all OK.
"This is an incredibly taxing and emotionally exhausting job at times, and we sometimes wonder why we do it," Dauzat says. "I think that question was answered for Stacey that day. I know it was answered for me."
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