Courtesy of the Greenfield Daily Reporter
“My grandma’s dead and I’m the only one here.”
Those were the words telecommunicator Greg Duda heard when he answered the phone at the 911 dispatch center on May 1. On the other end of the line was 7-year-old Joshua King whose grandmother, Kristeen Walker, had passed out in her garage.
Joshua knew enough to call 911 using Walker’s cellphone but dispatchers were unable to get an address from him. Fortunately, Walker had signed up for Hancock County’s Smart 911 system and dispatch was able to pull up information about who lived in her house and where it was located.
“I saw the information and I asked if I was speaking to Josh,” Duda said. “He replied, ‘no, I go by Joshua,’ and I knew we had the right information.”
Duda was then able to ask Joshua to confirm the address Walker had on file in her Smart 911 profile and McCordsville police officers were on the scene three minutes after the call was originally made.
When they arrived at the scene, officers were able to confirm Walker was unconscious but breathing and she was transported to the hospital. After about 24 hours of testing and monitoring, she was released.
On Tuesday, Joshua was awarded with a certificate of recognition for his bravery and quick thinking by John Jokantas, director of communications for the county’s 911 office. Joshua was saluted by the county commissioners before getting a tour of the dispatch center and a ride with Sheriff Mike Shepherd. The best part of the day, for Joshua anyway, was a day off from school.
“I’m so proud of him,” Walker said in the dispatch center, Tuesday. “I told him he was my hero.”
Walker said she’s had discussions with Joshua in the past about calling 911 if something ever happened to her. She credits both him and the Smart 911 system for the quick response and for possibly saving her life.
The Smart 911 system was implemented in Hancock County in April of 2017. Any resident can sign up for the free service and input as much or as little information as they like. Jokantas said the profile information is unavailable to emergency responders until they get a phone call. When a phone call comes through, dispatch operators are able to pull up information like the names of the people living in the house and the address. Without it, dispatch has to rely on either the person on the phone telling them an address, or GPS locating, which can be unreliable.
“Situations like these are exactly why we have this,” Jokantas said. “Thanks to Joshua and the system, this is a successful, happy story that we don’t often have.”
Jokantas estimates about 3,500 households are currently signed up for Smart 911 in Hancock County. He said he would like to see everyone sign up for it, for instances just like Walker’s.
By GDR Reporter Zach Osowski