Most 911 calls don't come from children, according to Rolla Communications Chief Stacey Smith. However in August of 2018, one juvenile call came in that ended up saving a life.
Jacob Light saved his father’s life when he called the Rolla Dispatch team after his father had fallen while doing work around their farm. While it wasn’t apparent at the time, his father had broken his ribs because of the fall, and punctured his heart.
Light’s call was answered by Ian Mathews, who worked as part of the dispatch team at the time. According to Mathews, the young boy was “the perfect caller,” and handled the situation better than most adults would have.
“Even though you could tell he was scared, he still knew everything and was able to be calm,” said Mathews.
Smith and Mathews explained the family lives in the county area, near Edgar Springs, which already created a delayed response compared to answering a call around the corner in Rolla.
“An extra delay could have made a life or death difference,” said Smith.
Help arrived on time to rescue Light’s father, and he was credited for his ability to stay calm and give the Mathews every piece of information he needed in order to ensure help arrived as fast as possible. At times Mathews had to put Light on hold to speak to his mother, and said the boy remained on the line as instructed, ready to respond when Mathews needed to ask him a question.
“Many adults can’t provide the same amount of information,” said Mathews.
When visiting schools, Smith said the key fact she tries to pass onto young kids is the importance of being ready to provide their address and other information.
“If you need help I’m gonna find you, but if you can tell me your address I can find you a lot quicker,” she says to these students.
Rolla Chief of Police Sean Fagan seconded the importance of communicating with dispatch when a 911 call is placed. He explained that cell phones don’t provide an exact address when a call is sent to dispatch, and they rely on latitude and longitude calculations to locate callers.
Light was honored at the Rolla Police Station on Wednesday, Dec. 12, and was given a Certificate of Recognition by Chief Fagan, as well as the 911 Hero award. According to Smith, this is the first time the station has given this award.
“Any agency who wants to present the award can,” she said. “We look for juvenile callers who did just like Jacob did. They answered all the questions, knew their address and phone number and didn’t hang up until the dispatcher told him it was okay. He followed all of the things we try to teach kids when they’re little and saved somebody’s life.”
Jacob’s father, who also came by the station, expressed his admiration for his son, and credited God for him being around to save his life. He explained Jacob wasn’t originally supposed to be with him at the time, and said Jacob decided at the last minute to accompany his father.
“If he hadn’t have done that, I would have been dead.”
In a situation where a level head made a life or death situation, everyone was grateful for Jacob Light’s presence.