When 911 operators in Mesa, Ariz., answered a call last week, they likely didn’t expect the emergency to be a McDonald’s Happy Meal.
Charlie Scabelund, 5, wanted a treat. His father Randy Scabelund, who spoke to the dispatcher in a followup call, said his son likely got hold of his cellphone to make the “emergency” call.
But it turned out to be Charlie’s lucky day.
Mesa police officer Randolph (Scott) Valdez passed by the Scabelund home, just to be sure there was no emergency, and even brought McDonald’s along with him.
The City of Mesa Police Department shared a photo of a smiling Charlie and Valdez, along with the infamous Happy Meal, to its official Facebook page.
According to the post, Valdez took this opportunity as a teachable moment.
“This past Sunday 5 year old Charlie dialed 911 to order a Happy Meal. Officer Valdez was dispatched to ensure the 911 call didn’t involve an actual emergency and he took some time to help Charlie know when its appropriate to call 911,” the post reads.
“Of course he also brought Charlie his Happy Meal. Thanks to Charlie’s mom for sharing this with us.”
Charlie’s mom, Kim Scabelund, told the Associated Press that Valdez treated her son with “love and kindness.”
In an audio recording of the emergency call, the boy can clearly be heard asking: “Can I get one Happy Meal?”
The dispatcher responds incredulously: “A Happy Meal?”
Charlie’s mom admitted she was a little embarrassed when she connected to the dots and realized her son had phoned the police station.
“I was just like, ‘Oh no, the kid’s got the phone!’ So we were a little embarrassed, a little shocked,” she explained. “We just reassured them that everything was good, the kid had just got the phone.”
“He knows to ask mom or dad if he wants a Happy Meal, and to only call 911 if there’s an emergency.”
Speaking to Today, Scabelund said that she was grateful Valdez took the time to teach her son about how to properly use the 911 emergency line.
“Officer Valdez was really sweet and went over the rules with Charlie about when you’re supposed to call 911, ” she said.
“He explained how if he’s busy bringing Happy Meals to kids, he can’t help people who really need him. He couldn’t have been nicer.”
Though it’s a serious matter when 911 is used inappropriately, the department’s Facebook followers are seeing the bright side of the situation.
One social media user responded to the post: “Awesome to see a PD turn this ‘accident’ into a learning moment with a treat, too!”
“Awesome job officer,” another wrote. “This kid will remember this as a very positive thing in his life.”
Another Facebook user also appreciated the educational moment, writing: “Thank you MPD for not only bringing him his Happy Meal but then teaching him on use of 911.”
—With files from The Associated Press