Beatrice 911 dispatcher hailed a hero

By: Bill Schammert

It was a typical Friday night at the Beatrice Communications Center for Chandra Crooks and her coworkers.  That is, until one unforgettable phone call.

She says it started in silence, then she heard some crying.  After about six minutes, the call ended.  Crooks called back.

“Right in again with the pounding and the crying,” Crooks said.  “I thought to myself, maybe she can't talk, so I asked her to knock twice if she could hear me.”

Next, she heard two very distinct knocks.

Since it was a cell phone call, the dispatchers could only narrow the location down to a vague area.  However, through this improvised knocking system, Crooks was able to determine the woman was in an upstairs apartment, and in desperate need of medical attention.

Then, a breakthrough as officers began to close in on the area.  Crooks heard a dog barking in the apartment.

“Do you have a dog?” you can hear her asking on the 911 tape.  “If so, knock.”

She heard a knock.

“I said, you keep pounding and we are going to get you help, she kept pounding and we got her the help she need.”

After about 15-minutes, officers arrived, then emergency responders.  Crooks says it's her more than decade of experience that allowed her to stay calm under pressure, and think quickly on her feet.

“It takes a special person to be able to [work here], it requires a lot of multitasking,” she said. “You have to be able to take charge and get information from callers who are a lot of times hysterical.”

Humble, and with that, 'I was just doing my job,' attitude, Crooks credits everyone else on the job that night.

“It took a team of all of us working together.  The dispatchers, the officers, and everyone's creativity and quick thinking to get her the help that she needed.”

Crooks says, the last she heard, the woman had apparently suffered a stroke, but was in stable condition in a Lincoln hospital.

A woman she says, someday she'd be honored to meet.