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Springfield dispatchers find lost, sick man

A Springfield man was delirious — driving for what seemed like minutes but in reality was likely hours — and had no idea where he was. He couldn’t even call for help.

But that didn’t stop Springfield’s 911 dispatchers from finding him.

On March 25, a Springfield woman called 911 hoping dispatchers at the local center could use GPS technology to locate her missing husband, said Cora Haytas, a communications coordinator.

“She wasn’t able to find her husband and said that she knew he was having a medical issue but didn’t know where he was at,” Haytas said.

The woman, who asked not to be identified, was panicked as she related how her husband claimed he’d come home with the groceries but there was no furniture in the house. She was sure he’d wandered into a vacant home, but was too sick to know where he was.

While he could answer his phone when dispatchers called, he was too confused to dial 911 himself, Haytas said. Dispatchers contacted his cell phone provider to get GPS coordinates for his phone. However, when they put them in their mapping system, nothing came up.

“When you don’t have the location, that’s the first thing you need to know or you can’t really do anything with it,” said Kerrie Kimpel, a communications coordinator who assisted with the call.

They checked with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office to see if they could locate the man using the coordinates with no success. Haytas said that’s when they had the idea to put them into Google Maps. What they discovered was that the man was about 40 miles away in Clinton County, and he had no idea how he got there.

“That’s a long way to drive,” Kimpel reflected. “I’m glad we were able to talk to him before he ran out of gas or lost consciousness and hit somebody.”

“There are a million of options that could have turned out not so good,” she added.

Clinton County’s dispatch center sent sheriff’s deputies and medics to find the man.

It took about 45 minutes from the time the victim’s wife called until Clinton County emergency crews arrived on scene. The man had a temperature of 108-degrees and was suffering from a blood infection when medics found him. The wife tearfully said the dispatchers “saved his life.”

It was an unusual case, but Haytas and Kimpel said they glad it had a positive outcome.

“We just did the job to the best of our ability that night and everybody was in sync and it worked out perfectly,” Kimpel said.

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