More than 1,100 calls pour into fireworks emergency hotline over Fourth of July weekend

Local News

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) – Jefferson County’s new fireworks hotline received at least 1,178 fireworks-related calls over the Fourth of July weekend.

Managers said the hotline, staffed by call-taker trainees, was a success, especially after Jeffcom 911 received an overwhelming, record number of 911 calls on July 4, 2020.

“The trainees all did an amazing job processing the volume of calls quickly and efficiently, and we are very proud of them,” said Gina Ramirez, the call-taking operations manager.

For the next several weeks, the new recruits will continue sharpening their skills on the call-taking floor, with the support of training officers and managers.

Until now, much of their practice has involved reenactments of realistic emergency scenarios in which a training officer pretends he is calling 911 in need of help.

In some reenacted scenarios, the caller did not survive.

“I think on the job, I’ll be better prepared to react quicker,” said Lynelle Turner, who recently practiced answering a fictional 911 call from a man who was trapped in a submerged car but did not survive.

“When a vehicle is sinking, there are certain things that you bypass and go straight to getting them the help they need because a sinking vehicle happens very quickly,” she said. “Once that pressure of the water is pushing on the doors, they’re not going to be able to get the doors open. So, you know, if they can’t get the windows open, they’re trapped. They’re in a coffin,” she said, explaining the importance of giving instructions thoroughly and quickly to the caller. 

“It’s a lot of pressure. That’s somebody’s life. If you can’t get them out, they’re dead,” said Turner.

Mark Nava, the training officer who reenacted the 911 calls so the recruits could practice, said Turner was calm despite the tragedy that was unfolding during her fictional call.

“Sometimes they make it. Sometimes they don’t,” he told the trainees.

The trainees also practiced several other scenarios, including how to handle CPR and chest compressions after a drowning, what to do when someone is struck by lightning, how to help someone who is injured and trapped in an elevator, and how to handle a vehicle fire.

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