NC dispatcher uses texts to save woman trapped in moving car

When the call dropped, Tim Medlin resorted to texting the woman

By EMS1 Staff

JOHNSTON COUNTY, N.C. — A dispatcher was applauded for using text messages to help locate a woman trapped in the trunk of a car. 

Tim Medlin received the call Jan. 14. A woman told Medlin her boyfriend had trapped her in the trunk of a moving car. 

“The only thing we knew is it was a female that was very upset, and that she was in the trunk of the car,” Medlin told WRAL.

After the call was disconnected and Medlin was unable to reach her, he decided to text her via a cellphone.

“It was the only way I knew we would probably not get her in trouble,” Medlin told the publication. “When I sent a simple text, ‘Can you text?’ she responded, ‘Yes.’ The immediate response after that was, ‘Help me.’”

The woman told Medlin the make and color of the vehicle and where she thought they were headed to. Officials were able to contact Verizon and locate the phone. 

Police in the area found the vehicle, rescued the woman and arrested her boyfriend. 

“It was a good feeling to know she was located,” Medlin said. 

Although 911 centers can receive text messages, they cannot initiate them. Jason Barbour, Johnston County’s 911 director, said that needs to change. 

“This is a prime example of technology being used to the fullest at someone’s greatest time of need,” Barbour said. “We can’t start the conversation. So that was the problem."

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