Trey Glidewell, EMD for Johnson County Emergency Management and Communications (Olathe, Kansas, USA), describes his introduction to first response as a career choice as “love at first sight.” His original plan was to become a doctor, but halfway through college his firefighter stepdad took him around on the fire truck one day and that was that. Glidewell worked as an EMT on an ambulance in Topeka (Kansas) for a year, then got the opportunity to work as an EMD for Johnson County and it stuck. He’s been with Johnson County for the past year and a half. Gale Wash, Johnson County’s Quality Manager, says that Glidewell is very calm in his calltaking style and has good knowledge of the protocol to keep him grounded.
Glidewell needed both of those traits for a call he took on Sunday, May 2nd.
Nine-year-old Bekkah Suraud found her neighbor’s dog outside and went to take the pooch home when she found the neighbor herself lying on the floor, struggling to breathe. Suraud used the emergency feature on her neighbor’s locked cell phone and called 911.
“Bekkah was really smart, very articulate, and super resourceful,” said Wash, who has been with Johnson County for nearly 18 years. “She was able to stay calm and help Trey figure out her location.”
“I thought it was the coolest thing because she was already being such a good neighbor by returning the dog,” Glidewell said. “And then she was able to help even more by calling us for her neighbor. She was able to keep up with my questions too, which is pretty rare for a child caller.”
Halfway through the call, Glidewell had Bekkah take the neighbor’s phone back to her grandma so she knew what was happening. In all, the call to get help for the neighbor was over seven minutes long and Bekkah was on the line with Glidewell for over four minutes.
“She did exactly what she was supposed to,” Glidewell said.
The neighbor was taken to the hospital where she was fitted with a pacemaker and stayed a while for observation. She has a friend drop by often to check on her.
As for Bekkah, she wants to be an emergency dispatcher when she grows up, and she hopes other kids will do what she did in an emergency.
“If anyone is hurt, and you think they’re having really big problems and something’s wrong with them, just call 911. Find the closest phone or person who has a phone,” Bekkah said.
Glidewell submitted the call for consideration for the 911 Hero Award to Johnson County, then to Mid-America Research Council (MARC), which oversees 911 operations for the region and dispenses the award. Bekkah was given the award at a ceremony at Johnson County on Monday, May 24th.
Aside from calls from kids, Glidewell really likes when “little old men or women call for their husband or wife. They’ve been together forever and they’re so proud of each other!”
Johnson County is secondary PSAP that handles both fire and medical calls and has achieved Medical accredited center of excellence (ACE) status. They dispatch for 44 fire stations and 13 ambulance departments. There are a total of 26 emergency dispatchers who work across four 12-hour shifts (A Days/Nights and B Days/Nights) with alternating weekends.
Like Glidewell, Wash didn’t originally set out to become an emergency dispatcher, but quickly fell in love with the profession.
“It’s not necessarily always saving a life,” Wash said. “Being able to impact change for that one person, that one caller, really floats my boat.”
Jones K. “A young hero: Johnson County 9-year-old honored for calling 911 to save neighbor.” FOX4. 2021; May 24. https://fox4kc.com/community/a-young-hero-johnson-county-9-year-old-honored-for-calling-911-to-save-neighbor/ (accessed June 1, 2021).
Rebecca “Becca” Barrus is Social Media Coordinator and Dispatch In Depth Podcast Producer for the Journal and Annals of Emergency Dispatch and Response (AEDR). She is also a writer and editor, with her work appearing in the Journal and several other Academy publications. Becca holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. She worked as a ghostwriter for two years where she wrote four novels and edited several more. Becca’s hobbies include baking and watching baking shows with the intensity of an avid sports fan. (email@example.com)