A six-year-old Mexico girl was hailed a "hero" by Audrain County E-911 Joint Communications personnel and dispatchers after she found her mother unresponsive on the floor and called 9-1-1.
One afternoon in November 2012, Alyssa Webb, had come home from kindergarten to find her mother, Kayla McQueen, unconscious on the floor and called 9-1-1 on her mother's smartphone. She remained calm, answered all the dispatcher's questions, and assisted in finding her location.
Audrain County E-911 Joint Communications personnel saluted the "little hero" during the Audrain Emergency Services employee appreciation dinner, held April 19, at the Audrain County Joint Communications Center in Mexico. They were celebrating National Telecommunication Week, and presented Alyssa a Hero Award.
During the ceremony, Alyssa's 9-1-1 recording was played. "My mommy's on the floor and she can't get up," the youngster told Audrain County Dispatcher Tiffany Schrader. The dispatcher continued to get vital information about where she lives, the name of the street she lived on, the color of her house and how to get there from a landmark – which was Eugene Field Elementary School.
Schrader also garnered details of Alyssa's mom's condition. According to McQueen, her fainting episode was due to a reaction she was having from recent appendicitis surgery. McQueen also suffers with asthma, so she and Alyssa would practice the 9-1-1 drill regularly, "just in case something happened," McQueen said. She also had the 9-1-1 information posted on the family's refrigerator.
Due to the teamwork of the six-year-old and the seven-year veteran dispatcher, an ambulance arrived at McQueen's front door within six minutes.
"I am just so impressed with Alyssa, I can't even put it into words. She's so smart, intuitive, and mature for her age," said 9-1-1 Director Christina Hardin. "The thing that stands out to me the most about Alyssa and her call to 9-1-1 was her composure, ability to pay attention to the dispatcher and answer the dispatcher's questions. She was absolutely amazing in doing everything the dispatcher asked her.
"From a 9-1-1 perspective, medical calls and domestic incidents are typically difficult calls for the dispatchers in attempting to get the caller to answer specific questions, in the order the questions are asked, in a calm manner, and without veering off course and providing information that we need to get first responders in route."
Hardin said "Alyssa did exceptionally well, and handled herself with much more composure than expected at such a young age."
The Hero Award is an idea that Hardin got from her Spring State Missouri Chapter of the National Emergency Number Association Conference. Each year they award it to a child, 12 years of age or younger, that calls 9-1-1 to save a life.
"I nominated Alyssa for the state award but another child won, so I decided to honor her locally," Hardin said. She and dispatcher Schrader presented Alyssa with a plaque recognizing her bravery and courage, and a pink blanket that has Audrain County 9-1-1 and Alyssa's name embroidered along the edges.
Page 2 of 2 - Alyssa said she was "kind of scared," but the "nice lady" at 9-1-1 made it easy for her to get the help her mother needed.
"I am really proud of her, and thankful that we actually practiced it," McQueen said.
This is the first year Audrain has presented a Hero Award. The communication center has done public education at local schools in the past when asked, as well as tours of their facilities at Joint Communications for church groups, Scout groups, day care centers, as well as others.
"I would hope others could learn from Alyssa that if you remain calm and composed, dispatchers are much more effective in gathering the pertinent information needed to get the initial call dispatched in a very short amount of time; after the call is dispatched the dispatcher will begin asking the caller for what is known as secondary information that could be useful to responders before they arrive on scene.
Dispatcher Schrader and her fellow employee, Tony Barnett, were presented with the "All Stars" award at the appreciation dinner.
Others receiving awards included:
Rookie of the Year: Jared Landis
MVP: Adam Dubbert
Inspirational Award: Maggie Middleton
Sportsmanship Award: Jason Eldridge
Least Sick Time: Adam Dubbert
Most calls answered: Adam Dubbert
Most Overtime: Tony Barnett
Recent Promotions: Amanda Thompson to assistant director; Adam Dubbert to operations manager; Tiffany Shrader to day-shift team leader and Tony Barnett to night-shift team leader.
Appreciation awards were also given to each employee, showing their length of service to the agency.
"We do this once a year in April to show our appreciation to our dispatchers during National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week," Hardin said. "Dispatchers are often the forgotten link in the emergency services chain, so we set aside a little time in April every year to show them how much they are appreciated," Hardin said.
Alyssa Webb is the daughter of McQueen and Tyler Webb of Mexico and the granddaughter of Kenny and Kerry McQueen and Tommy and Melodie Webb, all of Paris.