MERCER COUNTY Boy, 3, honored for 911 call
The director of the 911 center isn't sure whether tapes of the calls that brought criticism are available.
By MARY GRZEBIENIAK
MERCER -- Mercer County commissioners honored a small boy for using 911 to save a life and also listened to criticism of the centralized emergency dispatching service when they met Thursday.
They presented a framed proclamation to Dylan Zahniser, 3, of 497 South Otter Street, commending him for his actions May 5. His mother, Melissa Zahniser, said when she left for work that morning, her husband, Robert Beggs, was awake and Dylan was still sleeping.
Seizure: After she left, Beggs apparently suffered a seizure. When Dylan could not rouse his stepfather and noticed blood coming from his mouth, he called 911. Police later told her the boy told the dispatcher, "My mother said if Daddy didn't talk to me I should call 911."
Mrs. Zahniser said her husband was hospitalized and has since recovered. He did not attend yesterday's ceremony because he had the flu, she said.
The day before the episode, she had taught Dylan how to dial 911 because of problems Beggs was having with his diabetes.
Jim Thompson, director of the Mercer County Emergency 911 Center, said the call was an easy one for the center. He explained that because Dylan called from a home phone, the address automatically came up on the dispatcher's screen, making it a simple matter to send help to the residence.
Dispatchers have a more difficult time with calls coming from cell phones, which do not register any address.
Complaints heard: Thompson responded to criticism from Daniel Little, 163 College Ave., Greenville, who was not happy with his treatment by 911 dispatchers in three past episodes.
Little told commissioners he had been in a serious accident and called 911, stating he was on Ohio Route 88 one mile west of the Pennsylvania line. He said the dispatcher asked him repeatedly what state he was in, what the address was, and whether he could give a mile marker.
Little said his description of the location was more than adequate and thought the dispatcher was wasting time in dispatching help.
Another time, he said, he called to report a suspected drunk driver and asked for state police. The dispatcher, he said, told him, "I don't have the state police number."
A third time, he called for help for an elderly woman at her residence. He said the first digit of her house number was missing from her mailbox, but he described the location, stating she was the last house on a quarter-mile long dead end. But he said the dispatcher kept insisting on an address.
Director responds: Thompson responded that the first two calls may have been answered in Ohio, though Little insisted it was Mercer County. Thompson said that the Mercer Center sometimes gets calls that "drift in" from Cleveland, West Virginia and Eastern Pennsylvania and that calls near jurisdictional borders may go to another center.
He also said that in Mercer County, transferring a call to the state police is a matter of pressing a button and that it would not make sense for a county dispatcher to not know the number.