Review of 911 protocol in wake of Amanda Berry's frantic call

Review of 911 protocol in wake of Amanda Berry's frantic call

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Amanda Berry went missing in 2003. She is shown here reuniting with her sister on Monday. Amanda Berry went missing in 2003. She is shown here reuniting with her sister on Monday.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -  The actions of the 911 dispatcher who received the call from Amanda Berry are "under review," sparking questions over the protocol for 911 operators.

Amanda Berry along with Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight and Amanda's daughter were rescued from a Cleveland, Ohio house on Monday after a neighbor heard cries for help and called police.

Amanda Berry's father's side of the family lives in Elizabethton, Tenn. Amanda was just a teenager when she disappeared. She is now 27 years old.

Not all states required mandatory training for 911 dispatchers. According to the National Emergency Number Association, Ohio only has a recommended number of training hours.

But in Tennessee, 911 operators must complete more than 80 hours of training as well as specific training when it comes to dealing with missing person calls.

Caller: Help me. I'm Amanda Berry.

Dispatcher: You need police, fire, ambulance?

Caller: I need police.

Dispatcher: OK, and what's going on there?

Caller: I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years, and I'm, I'm here, I'm free now.

That is the beginning of the frantic 911 call made by Amanda Berry on Monday after she escaped the house she had been help captive for more than a decade.  

At the 911 center in Loudon County, director Jennifer Estes says there is a protocol their operators follow on every call.

"The first question the dispatcher will ask is, 'Where is the emergency?' A lot of people want to start off with what's going on, which is important to us, but if we don't know where you are we can't send you help," Estes explained.

In the days following the rescue of the three missing young women in Cleveland, there have been questions raised about the 911 operator, including the operator's tone. But Estes says operators must stay calm in these situations.

"They are their only link," Estes said. "They have to be able to maintain that professionalism, remain calm, be that voice of calmness, be the voice of reassurance to someone who's calling at the worst time of their life."

The Cleveland dispatcher's failure to remain on the line with the victim is also being questioned.

"We are trained to do that as much as possible but sometimes we can't because of so many other calls," Estes explained.

But she says there are always different circumstances.

"We always tell our [dispatchers] you're putting normal people in abnormal situations. They're having to talk to people who are at the worst times of their lives, so it is very stressful."

Amanda Berry was able to provide an address helping dispatch get police to the scene quickly. They were reportedly on the scene within two minutes.

The full transcript of the 911 call:

(Source: Cleveland Law Department)

Caller: Help me. I'm Amanda Berry.

Dispatcher: You need police, fire, ambulance?

Caller: I need police.

Dispatcher: OK, and what's going on there?

Caller: I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years, and I'm, I'm here, I'm free now.

Dispatcher: OK, and what's your address?

Caller: 2207 Seymour Avenue.

Dispatcher: 2207 Seymour. Looks like you're calling me from 2210.

Caller: Huh?

Dispatcher: Looks like you're calling me from 2210.

Caller: I can't hear you.

Dispatcher: Looks like you're calling me from 2210 Seymour.

Caller: I'm across the street; I'm using the phone.

Dispatcher: OK, stay there with those neighbors. Talk to police when they get there.

Caller: (Crying)

Dispatcher: OK, talk to police when they get there.

Caller: OK. Hello?

Dispatcher: OK, talk to the police when they get there.

Caller: OK (unintelligible).

Dispatcher: We're going to send them as soon as we get a car open.

Caller: No, I need them now before he gets back.

Dispatcher: All right; we're sending them, OK?

Caller: OK, I mean, like ...

Dispatcher: Who's the guy you're trying -- who's the guy who went out?

Caller: Um, his name is Ariel Castro.

Dispatcher: OK. How old is he?

Caller: He's like 52.

Dispatcher: And, uh -

Caller: I'm Amanda Berry. I've been on the news for the last 10 years.

Dispatcher: I got, I got that, dear. (Unintelligible) And, you say, what was his name again?

Caller: Uh, Ariel Castro.

Dispatcher: And is he white, black or Hispanic?

Caller: Uh, Hispanic.

Dispatcher: What's he wearing?

Caller (agitated): I don't know, 'cause he's not here right now. That's why I ran away.

Dispatcher: When he left, what was he wearing?

Caller: Who knows (unintelligible).

Dispatcher: The police are on their way; talk to them when they get there.

Caller: Huh? I - OK.

Dispatcher: I told you they're on their way; talk to them when they get there, OK.

Caller: All right, OK. Bye.

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