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Tele Communicator Week: Stories From the 911 Dispatch Life

Darian Horniday loves her job. She says saving a life is a daily possibility.

INDIANAPOLIS--Calling 911 in an emergency could save your life. The people on the other end of the phone are highly-trained and are equipped not only with the skills to get the right people to the emergency, but to guide you through your emergency.

Darian Hornaday, a 911 dispatcher with the Indianapolis Fire Dept. recalled the time she helped deliver a baby.

"They had called in and they had advised that they felt the head coming," she said. "So, I dispatched help and I stayed on the line and actually gave them full instructions and the baby was out, wrapped up and ready to go when the medics got there."

Hornaday and her colleagues are celebrating National Tele-Communicator Week, which honors professionals like 911 dispatch operators. IFD employs 35 dispatcher, who work 12-hour shifts.

Hornaday said she enjoys her job because there's never a boring day.

"I come in and it's a different day no matter what. I always look forward to picking up the phone and hearing what's gonna be on the other line, 'cause you never know."

But, she's gotten some frightening calls, emergencies that, in the beginning, rattled her a bit. She said she got over that and is able to stay completely calm.

"The scariest calls are...typically gunshots, stabbings, severe assaults. Those are things that, it's kind of out of your control and the caller's really upset and it's hard to get them to center themselves," said Hornaday. That's the reason she said she has to stay calm.

"It's always important to realize that no matter how rattled you are, your caller is always worse off than you and it's potentially the worst day of their life. So, what you need to do is center yourself," she said. Hornaday has needed that calm when she's had to give instructions not only for childbirth, but for saving a baby's life.

"I remember I did have a baby choking on a bottle cap and I instructed the parents on how to dislodge it and while I was on the phone they did get it dislodged and the baby breathing again."

Hornaday said 911 dispatchers frequently help save lives when they give CPR instructions, and other pre-arrival instructions that help control bleeding, or keep people calm, or even keep people from eating and drinking anything during some situations.

She said if you ever need to call 911, try to keep yourself calm.

"We understand if you can't. Just always remember your dispatchers are there to help you and they're there to provide the right help so, we are going to ask questions. We're gonna try to get the best information possible to get you the right help on time."

PHOTO: Thinkstock/JoeChoe16

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