‘Needle in a haystack’: Dispatcher spends 3 hours helping police find man suffering stroke

Dispatcher Asisha Milton will never forget this call

By Suzie Ziegler 

DENVER — Asisha Milton, a Denver dispatcher, was hailed a hero last month for leading a three-hour 911 call to find an elderly man urgently in need of help, KDVR reported on Tuesday.  

The incredible story began 800 miles away, in Tucson, Arizona, when a frantic woman called Denver dispatch. The woman explained that her husband, named Cliff, was in Denver and had suffered a stroke. He didn’t know where he was and couldn’t help himself. 

“He’s in the car, but he doesn’t know where he is, and I don’t know what to do,” the woman says in the 911 audio recording obtained by KDVR. 

Milton was able to reach Cliff by cellphone, but she couldn’t get his accurate location because Cliff was unable to call 911 himself. In audio from their cellphone call, Cliff sounds confused, has trouble remembering instructions and has implied mobility issues. 

The cellphone call touched off a massive police search. Milton’s supervisor, Tyler Rebbe, had contacted Denver Police to activate a phone ping. The ping narrowed down the search field, but it wasn’t accurate enough to pinpoint Cliff’s location. 

"The unfortunate thing was that the radius for that ping was about a mile wide," Rebbe explains. "In that scenario in the middle of Denver, that’s a lot of places, a lot of streets to check. It was definitely a needle in a haystack situation."

Denver officers went block by block within the ping’s radius, trying to find Cliff. They activated their sirens so that Milton might be able to hear officers getting closer through Cliff’s cellphone, the report said. Milton tried to get Cliff to honk his horn, but he couldn’t.  

Finally, after about three hours, officers found Cliff and took him to the hospital. No further details about his condition were released. 

"I was ecstatic. I was so happy that we found him. I wanted to cry," Milton told KDVR. “When I got off the phone, my coworkers clapped and gave me a standing ovation."


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