Dispatch Duo Uses Prepared to Help Resolve Domestic Incident
Note: This article contains a description of a domestic incident that may be triggering for some readers. If you or a loved one are affected by domestic violence, please call the national hotline at 800-799-7233. If this story may be upsetting to you, please do not read on.
If you’ve worked in public safety for even a single year, you’ve probably experienced things that most civilians won’t experience in a lifetime. For Shanna Brussell and Kimberly Ball, 30+ years of combined experience mean they’ve seen…well…they’ve really seen it all.
“I’ve been dispatching for 22 years now so there’s quite a few stories…several that stand out,” says Kim, a former EMT. She recalls a notable story from earlier in her career, “On a snowy day, my colleague and I helped birth a child in a vehicle…she worked with the father while I directed the fire department to the scene…it ended up being one of two twins.”
Shanna boasts over a decade of experience after initially beginning her career in corrections while pursuing a Criminal Justice degree. At first, she didn’t want to work full time in the 9-1-1 center, but that changed quickly, she says, “This is a whole new side of helping people and I absolutely fell in love with it. You are helping people on their very worst day and you have a big role in the outcome on their very worst day. We’re talking to them during their real-life nightmares.”
Recently, the duo combined to help a woman in need during a domestic situation. Their work earned them the Prepared T.O.P. Save award. This is the story.
Constant contact, constant understanding
On January 14, 2023, Shanna and Kim took a call at 6:18AM from a female for a male subject with altered mental status. At this point, the male subject had fired six shots through the walls of the residence, including into the hot water heater. He then proceeded to barricade himself and the female into a room using a bicycle.
Upon receiving the call, Shanna and Kim acted quickly to share a Prepared Live link. They could see that she was barricaded in the bedroom and they could see a number of weapons on the bed. Additionally, they were able to verify that she was uninjured and not in immediate need of EMS.
While this was occurring, they continued to verbally communicate with the female and the male in attempts to calm both parties, which, via video, they could see that they were slowly doing. As the situation evolved, they were able to track and watch the male’s movements throughout the residence and pass this information directly to law enforcement en route to the scene in real-time.
“Without having that video, we would not have been able to update the officers and keep them informed of what was going on. We would not have been able to keep up with exactly what was going on in that room.
Eventually, they convinced the male to put his weapons down and surrender with his hands up. No injury was caused to the female or responders, and law enforcement knew exactly what they were going to face when they reached the scene.
“Luckily, everything turned out awesome,” Kim says, and adds, “Without having that video, we would not have been able to update the officers and keep them informed of what was going on. We would not have been able to keep up with exactly what was going on in that room.
“Callers cannot always articulate what is going on from either being too scared, or the adrenaline rush…sometimes they can’t speak and, in this case, even if she hadn’t been able to speak, we’d be able to see what was going on. The safety value of having live video and being able to update everyone at the same time, to know what was going on in there…it was just priceless.”
Leaders in public safety
Kim and Shanna are exemplary dispatchers in many ways. They lead by example in their center and have been advocates for the utilization of new technologies. Shanna says that that’s been to their benefit.
“It doesn’t make things more difficult, it makes it easier. You’re seeing what’s going on instead of relying on possibly inadequate information.”
Kim also had a message for the nation’s leaders in government.
“We are a first responder, we’re not a secretary. We see things, we hear things that most people don’t ever want to hear or see. We are a special breed, not everybody can do our job…It takes a different type of person, a different type of personality, to do the job we do. And to let everyone in Congress know: we’re not secretaries, we are a first responder, and that needs to change.”
Well said, Kim.
They are also more than just 9-1-1 professionals. Shanna likes to spend her free time hiking and camping with her dog, a one year-old Great Pyrenees and Pitbull mix named Bella. Kim enjoys doing crafts, especially embroidery. She even embroiders sweatshirts for 9-1-1 professionals that have sold locally and online.
Inside or outside of the center, we appreciate all that you do and we are so honored to have Nelson County E-911 as a partner. Thank you, Kim and Shanna.