No ordinary day at 9-1-1 during Farm King shooting
Thu, 11 Feb 2010 00:42:09 GMT —
It's been a week since a Tennessee, Illinois man walked into Macomb's Farm King store and fired shots inside the building and at local police.
He later was found dead inside the store of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. We've talked with many first responders who were on the scene that day.
But some of the local heroes were *behind* the scenes.
KHQA sat down with that 9-1-1 dispatcher who says in her 15 years on the job, she's never had a more difficult 15-minute phone call.
What were your initial thoughts when you first got that call?
Dispatcher Mary Lage said, "My initial thought was by the sound of that man's voice on the phone, this was serious and he was terrified. I had to get important information very quickly in order to make sure the officers knew where they were going and what the situation was."
McDonough County 9-1-1 Center Director, Noel Oliver said, "There is no script for something like this. She was winging it and knew she had to get the basics, She also knew the longer she could keep this man on the phone, the more information we could get from inside the source."
Lage said, "I fell back on the basic routine questions, focusing on what we have to do..basic things, I had to keep my mind from wandering to all the possibilities about what could be happening about what could happen I couldn't allow myself to think further than focusing right on the task I was doing at that moment."
If I allowed my mind to wander I would panic I would get upset and not be able to keep him calm.
Lage said, "During those quiet times when no one was talking. I was praying."
Meanwhile here at the 9-1-1 center....
Oliver said, "It was chaos in here. All of the phones lit up, with calls reporting shots fired."
Mary Lage's partner behind the desk here at the 9-1-1 center, Tressa Wheeler was managing the flood of calls coming into the center...and dispatching police and emergency responders to the scene. All the while Lage stayed on the phone with the Manager of Farm King. In the end only the gunman was hurt, but everyone here knows it could turned out very differently.
Lage said, "I am thankful to God because I think it could have gone much worse than it did."
Another note, ever since the incident last week, McDonough County has been receiving calls from dispatch centers all over the country.
They all want copies of the 9-1-1 tape to use as training for their own dispatchers.