Dispatcher, 8-year-old work together to save choking child

Reagan Jordan talked an 8-year-old girl through using the Heimlich Maneuver

  • 9-1-1 dispatcher Reagan Jordan (Photo: Russ Rendon/Arlington Voice)
    Reagan Jordan was recognized for her work as a 9-1-1 telecommunicator in assisting an 8-year-old girl in rescuing her brother from choking. (Photo: Russ Rendon/Arlington Voice)
  • Arlington Assitant Fire Chief Jim Self (Photo: Russ Rendon/Arlington Voice)
    Arlington Assistant Fire Chief Jim Self offers Reagan Jordan the Fire Department's appreciation for her assistance in the rescue. (Photo: Russ Rendon/Arlington Voice)
  • Reagan Jordan and Rhonda Shipp (Photo: Russ Rendon/Arlington Voice)
    Rhonda Shipp presents Reagan Jordan with the Arlington Fire Department's Life-Saving Award. (Photo: Russ Rendon/Arlington Voice)
  • Reagan Jordan and Tina Chaffin (Photo: Russ Rendon/Arlington Voice)
    Tarrant County 9-1-1 District's Tina Chaffin (right) presents Reagan Jordan with the District's Excellence Award. (Photo: Russ Rendon/Arlington Voice)
Ken Costlow

On what was supposed to be her day off, Reagan Jordan received a call Friday asking her to come back to her office at the Ott Cribbs Public Safety Building.

When a 9-1-1 Telecommunicator receives a call asking for them to come into the office, more often than not it’s for an emergency. Thankfully, there was no emergency for Jordan to have to work.

Instead, much to her surprise, Jordan was honored for her dedication to duty by both the Arlington Fire Department and the Tarrant County 9-1-1 District. The recognition was for a call she took last month to help a young girl rescue her older brother from choking.

“When I walked in and saw that everyone was already here, I began to wonder what was going on,” Jordan admitted after the ceremony. “I certainly did not expect all of this.”

On June 14, Jordan answered a 9-1-1 call from a young boy who told her his friend appeared to be choking on an unidentified object. Within minutes, the 8-year-old sister of the boy in distress took over the telephone and began explaining to Jordan what was happening.

Jordan said the first boy began to become frazzled when Lauren, the sister, calmly relayed the address and telephone at the location.

“(Lauren) took charge of everything,” Jordan said. “It was incredible. Sometimes it’s hard for even adults to relay the information we need to send an ambulance, but an 8-year-old remained calm down enough for us to help her out. She was absolutely amazing.”

As the 9-1-1 recording indicates, Jordan talked calmly to Lauren and explained how to apply the Heimlich Maneuver to her older brother. In a few minutes, the boy began coughing and breathing again just as an ambulance appeared on the scene.

Jordan – who will celebrate her third year as a 9-1-1 dispatcher in December -- said the entire experience was nerve-wracking even for the other 9-1-1 telecommunicators that were listening in on a speaker.

“After it was over, we started breathing again ourselves when we finally heard him coughing and breathing,” she said. “It felt like it had been an hour, but it was probably only six minutes.

“It was definitely a relief because one of the frustrating aspects about this job is how we wish we could be there with them to help them through things like this. It’s a helpless feeling from the other side of the phone.”

Jordan said often the best 9-1-1 calls they receive are from children. Sometimes they come from kids who are playing on the telephone, but when there is a serious emergency, youngsters are often more cooperative than adults are.

“For an 8-year-old to remain as calm and collected as (Lauren) was is really remarkable,” she admitted. “Children are honest and innocent, and tell you everything you need to know.”

After some opening remarks of appreciation from Assistant Fire Chief Jim Self, Jordan received a Life-Saving Award from Rhonda Shipp and an Excellence Award from Tarrant County 9-1-1 District spokesperson Tina Chaffin.

Chaffin said it’s always good for the Tarrant County 9-1-1 District to receive recognition for a job well done at a time when the 9-1-1 program often receives as much criticism as anything else.

“We have positive calls all the time, but the only ones anyone ever hears about are our negative calls,” Chaffin said. “Our positive calls just don’t always get out to the media.”

As for Lauren and her brother, the Fire Department attempted to reach out to their family and recognize Lauren for her efforts, but the family politely declined.

“I hope Lauren knows how awesome she is,” Jordan said. “I would love to meet her some day and tell her myself. My job was just to keep her calm. She’s the one that did all the work.”