GOING THE EXTRA MILE
August 9, 2013
By Audrey Fraizer
He was 16 years old and lonely.
His family had recently moved to Atlanta, Ga., from a smaller town in Georgia where he had spent most of his young years. As a “new kid” he was not altogether “successful,” by his standards, in finding his place among hundreds of strangers at the large inner-city high school.
His friends back home in Jackson were worried. They knew he was unhappy, depressed. One friend in particular who had stayed in contact did not want to take lightly the text messages he had been receiving for the past two weeks. He feared his friend had followed through with his threats that evening.
“His friend said he wanted to commit suicide,” said Chris Curley, a dispatcher for Grady EMS in Atlanta, Ga.
The friend apparently told his parent, who called 9-1-1 at about 10:30 p.m. on March 17, 2013. The caller said her child’s friend had told him he had taken an unknown amount of medication. He was depressed about the move.
Curley called the boy’s cell phone number provided by the caller’s son. He answered. Although his voice was slurred from the effects of the drugs, she was able to find out a few facts: his family was living in apartment F, and the complex was near a lake. The pills had made him groggy, and he was unable to get up out of his bed. Curley convinced him to kick his bedroom door to alert his parents.
“I kept on talking to him, reassuring him that things would get better,” Curley said. “I was not letting this one go.”
He hung up.
Curley was determined to find him. If he wasn’t going to help her find him, she was going to try any means possible to make sure she did. EMD Terrell Journey jumped in. He looked up the address of the home associated with the cell phone. The address jived with his story; it was where the family had lived before moving to Atlanta. They called the real estate agent who had sold the home; perhaps she would know the new address. No answer.
Curley and Journey called his cell phone numerous times and searched the Internet for more family information. Curly “pinged” the cell phone to find out the cell tower grid the phone was in, and that would tell them within a certain range where he could be. She mapped every apartment complex within the grid and narrowed down the choices to a complex by a lake with lettered apartments.
She called the courtesy officer on duty and explained the situation.
The story ends well, Curley said. The teen’s kicking woke up his mother, and he was rushed to the hospital. He made a full recovery and was in counseling to help him adjust to his new situation.
“They had no idea how hard it had been on him,” Curley said. “But I had gone through the same situation at his age. My family moved to Tampa [Fla.] and I had to start over again. I knew it was hard. I could understand how he felt. Parents don’t always see that.”
Journey said this is the kind of story that needs to be told about 9-1-1.
“We will go the extra mile to help even if it seems impossible,” Journey said. “Chris could not rest until she found location. I was compelled to assist her in every way I could. We worked a long time on this call and in the end we may have very well saved a life.”
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