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DENVER (KDVR) — In a city as large as Denver, 911 dispatchers deal with thousands of calls every single day. But any dispatcher will tell you there are certain calls that stick with them. 

For Asisha Milton, that call came in April of 2021, and it came from nearly 800 miles away.

“I am in Tucson, Arizona, and my husband left this morning for Denver,” said the woman on the other end. “He’s in Denver right now, but he’s had a stroke. He’s in the car, but he doesn’t know where he is, and I don’t know what to do.”

Milton was able to reach that man, named Cliff, on his cell phone, but was unable to find out where he was.

“He couldn’t tell me any information,” Milton said. “He couldn’t do the simple things that I ask him to do. I asked him to hang up and call 911 so we could get a better location, and he couldn’t do it.”

Milton’s Supervisor, Tyler Rebbe, reached out to Denver Police to request a phone ping, which was quickly activated. But since Cliff wasn’t the one making the 911 call, the accuracy was hit or miss. 

“We knew he was in Denver,” Rebbe said. “The unfortunate thing was that the radius for that ping was about a mile wide. In that scenario in the middle of Denver, that’s a lot of places, a lot of streets to check. It was definitely a needle in a haystack situation.”

Denver Police Sgt. Tony Lopez Jr. quickly assembled a team of officers and began a grid search, going block by block in the middle of the night in the neighborhoods surrounding 13th Avenue and Quebec Street.

Meanwhile, Milton tried relentlessly to get Cliff to hang up and call them instead, or to click on text messages that would reveal his location.

Milton also asked him to honk his horn or sound his car alarm, but she says Cliff was unable to perform any of those tasks. 

Roughly three hours into the call, Denver Police officers found him near 11th Avenue and Dahlia Street. They called an ambulance to take him to the hospital. 

“I was ecstatic. I was so happy that we found him. I wanted to cry. I did not, but I wanted to,” Milton said. “When I got off the phone my coworkers clapped and gave me a standing ovation, so that was nice.”

Milton has no idea what Cliff looks like and told us that’s the hard part of the job: They rarely meet or even know what happens to callers.

In this case, if she ever gets the chance to meet Cliff, “I’d just want to give them a hug,” Milton said.

What are the signs of a stroke?

Call 911 if you suspect someone is having a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke. The acronym FAST is an easy way to remember some of the common warning signs of a stroke.

  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech problems
  • Time to call an ambulance

When you should call 911

Denver 911 wants you to call them for the following reasons:

  • Stop a Crime
  • Report a Fire
  • Save a Life

If you do need to call 911, expect the call taker to ask specific questions. For more on what to expect when calling 911 for different emergencies click here

Denver’s 2022 911 academies

Like most 911 centers across the country, Denver has open positions for both technicians who take calls and dispatchers who speak with law enforcement responding to emergencies. Denver is currently taking applicants for an Emergency Communication Technician (ECT) academy in June.  

Andrea Webber said the department hopes to have 15 potential call takers attend training, which runs from late June through November.

A training academy for dispatchers will be held in October. Denver 911 currently has 144 positions. About half of those positions operate as ECTs answering calls.

If this story resonated with you and you want to learn more about career opportunities with Denver 911 communications Center, text Join911 to 720-463-1414.