Dispatcher, mom, handles call of own son choking

Her training came into play when she realized the 911 call was from her husband; the couple's baby boy had swallowed a metal washer

By Eric Vodden

MARYSVILLE, Calif. — Former Marysville police dispatcher Britney Melchor realized pretty quickly that the 911 call coming in for a choking child was going to make it a day to remember.

Melchor's training to stay calm and composed during emergencies was put to the test the afternoon of May 27 when she realized the call was from her husband, Robert Kimball.

And the child who was choking was the couple's 14-month-old son, Maverick, who had swallowed a metal washer.

"At first I went into work mode," Melchor said, who was training a new dispatcher when the call came in about 2 p.m.

The trainee took the call and confirmed the address; she realized at that point that emergency aid was needed for her own son.

She stayed while the trainee sent rescue vehicles and she herself toned out a Marysville police officer to the scene.

"I just felt like I was doing my job," Melchor said.

And, she said, she knew the best thing she could do to help her son was to ensure that emergency rescue vehicles got there quickly to help him.

Finally, a supervisor came into the dispatch area and realized what was going on.

"She told me to go home," Melchor said.

Melchor was honored with a certificate of appreciation at last week's Marysville City Council meeting for her performance in the face of such emotional distress.

Police Chief David Baker noted that Melchor knew the best thing she could do for her son was to make sure emergency help was dispatched.

As it turned out, Kimball, a former Rideout Memorial Hospital orderly who had worked with infants managed to clear Maverick's airway of the washer.

"Once I realized I couldn't get it out, that's when I called," Kimball said.

While he wasn't able to extract the washer from the red-faced, unconscious infant, he pushed it past the airway.

By the time rescue personnel arrived, Maverick had started taking in air and was crying. After being checked out at the Rideout Memorial Hospital emergency room, the infant went home and is now back to being as adventurous as any 14-month-old.

"He (Maverick) passed the washer two weeks later," said Kimball.

Melchor, who is now working as a Yuba County sheriff's dispatcher, said traditional training doesn't include handling 911 calls coming in from family members.

"We handle each and every call the same way," Melchor said.

And she certainly wasn't seeking public recognition for performing her duties, especially when doing that was the best thing for her family.

"But I am grateful that they honored me for something like that," she said.


©2014 the Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, Calif.)

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