A woman trapped inside the trunk of a moving car is now safe all thanks to an emergency dispatcher’s tech savvy thinking.
Johnston County emergency dispatcher Tim Medlin said he received a call on Jan. 14 from a distraught woman who said she was abducted in Raleigh, N.C. by her boyfriend and trapped in the trunk of a moving car.
Medlin said the conversation was difficult to understand.
“The only thing we knew is it was a female that was very upset and that she was in the trunk of the car,” he told NBC affiliate WRAL.
Then the unthinkable happened – the call got disconnected.
After failed attempts to reach the woman by phone, Medlin decided to try and text her from a cell phone in the 911 centre.
“Texting – it was the only way I knew we would probably not get her in trouble,” Medlin said.
So he sent her a simple message asking if she can text.
“Yes,” she responded. It was then followed with the text, “Help me.”
Texting back and forth allowed Medlin to gather information on the colour and make of the vehicle. He was also able to get an approximate location and the name of her boyfriend, .
With the help of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s office and Verizon Wireless, they were able to locate the cell phone the victim used.
Fayetteville police later located the vehicle and arrested a suspect.
“They located her. It was a good feeling to know she was located,” Medlin told WRAL.
Jason Barbour, Johnston County’s 911 director, pointed out texting is a great tool to help dispatchers connect with callers, but there are some issues.
“This is a prime example of technology being used to the fullest at someone’s greatest time of need,” Barbour told WRAL.
“We can only receive texts and then text back one another. We can’t start the conversation. So that was the problem.”
Barbour thinks all 911 centres should be updated to be able to initiate text messages as an alternative means to communicate with victims.
Meanwhile, Nicholas Mattevi has been charged with false imprisonment.