A 911 dispatcher saved a woman who had been locked in a car by her boyfriend by texting her so that she wouldn’t be heard by her attacker.
Tim Medlin, a 911 supervisor in Johnston County, North Carolina, received a call from the woman, who had been locked in the trunk of a moving car by a jealous boyfriend, according to WRAL. Merlin said that it was difficult to understand the woman, and the call got disconnected.
“The only thing we knew is it was a female that was very upset, and that she was in the trunk of the car,” said Medlin.
Thinking quickly, Medlin texted the woman from a cell phone. “Texting, it was the only way I knew we would probably not get her in trouble,” he said.
“When I sent a simple text, ‘Can you text?’ She responded, ‘Yes,’” said Medlin. “The immediate response after that was, ‘Help me.’”
The woman was able to tell Medlin the color and type of car that she was trapped in, and that she thought that her boyfriend was driving to Fayetteville. She also provided her boyfriend’s name, Nicholas Mattevi.
Medlin called the Cumberland County Sheriff’s office, which was able to locate the woman’s phone with help from Verizon.
Once the phone had been tracked, Fayetteville police found the car, arrested Mattevi, and saved the woman.
“Okay, they’re out with her. They’ve got them. They’ve confirmed that they’ve got them. We’re like, ‘Okay, this is over with. It’s done. I can go home. I can go to bed. We’ve done our job,’” said Medlin.
Johnston County 911 director Jason Barbour said that 911 dispatchers can receive text messages and respond to them, but cannot start conversations, a policy which Barbour said needs to be altered.
“This is a prime example of technology being used to the fullest at someone’s greatest time of need,” said the director. “We can only receive texts and then text back one another. We can’t start the conversation. So that was the problem.”
Barbour added that he was glad Medlin had a cell phone on hand to text the woman. The phone Medlin used to text her was reportedly an old flip phone — Barbour said that he would be buying a smart phone for the team so that in the future they can have a keyboard for texting, according to WTVD.
“The one we have is a flip phone and obviously it’s cumbersome to do text messaging from a flip phone, so we have a smart phone on the way to take care of this need,” said Barbour, reports WNCN.