Parents of Ohio teen who died visit Hancock 911 center

0
597

GREENFIELD — After Ron and Jill Plush lost a child whose death could have been prevented with better emergency response, they set out on a mission to not only advocate for improvements but also to celebrate the work 911 operators do.

The Ohio couple brought that mission to Greenfield during the weekend, along with cookies and a desire to learn about Hancock County 911 telecommunicators’ jobs.

Kyle Plush, 16, Cincinnati, died from asphyxiation while trapped in his family van last April. His arms were pinned when the rear seat in the van flipped. He called Cincinnati’s 911 emergency communications center twice through voice-activated Siri on his iPhone. He gave his name, his location in his school parking lot and the van’s description. Dispatchers and police could not find him; his father finally found the van about six hours after the first 911 call.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]

His parents started the Kyle Plush Answer the Call Foundation to advocate for changes in antiquated 911 systems across the country and to support 911 telecommunicators.

“He would have wanted us to make changes and to overcome obstacles to make changes to save lives so that this doesn’t happen again,” Jill said at the Hancock County 911 Center, which the family visited Saturday.

Ron and Jill; their daughter, Alli; Jill’s cousin Mindy Minnick; and Minnick’s daughter, Sophie, visited the Hancock County center to deliver cookies, express their support for emergency telecommunicators and learn about the center’s technology. Groups of volunteers with the foundation visited seven other dispatch centers throughout the Indianapolis area as well.

Ron and Jill said they were impressed with the Hancock County center and praised its adoption of various 911 response technologies.

Among those technologies is Smart911. Those who sign up for the service create profiles available to 911 call takers. Users can provide information on their profiles such as addresses, medical information, home information, descriptions of pets and vehicles and emergency contacts.

RapidSOS also benefits Hancock County 911 telecommunicators by pinpointing the locations of 911 callers with iPhones updated to iOS 12 and Androids with versions 4.0-plus.

“Seconds matter, and if they have all that information in front of them and don’t have to fish for it and search and just wonder… the more successful they can be,” Ron said.

The foundation wants not only 911 telecommunicators, but everyone, to “answer the call to be your best self every day,” a news release states.

“If you are being your best self you can overcome a lot of the other challenges, like on the technology side,” Ron said of how the foundation’s slogan pertains to 911 telecommunicators. “So, if you’re thinking out of the box, you’re just relentless in your pursuit to get answers, to find out what’s going on in an emergency situation, you will prevail.”

John Jokantas, director of the Hancock County 911 Center, said he was grateful for the foundation’s visit.

“They’re fighting the fight that a lot of 911 centers are fighting right now,” Jokantas said. “We embrace it. We love that they’re doing this.”

Craig Lindsay, public information officer for the center, praised the way the Plushes push for collaboration in resolving shortcomings in the 911 response field.

“When you get people on the same page and fighting for the same goal, then you tend to attain that goal a lot faster,” Lindsay said.

Jokantas said he wants to see standardized training for 911 telecommunicators required across Indiana. State statute doesn’t mandate training.

Such training is required as far as the Hancock County center is concerned, however, Jokantas said.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Learn more” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

More information on the Kyle Plush Answer the Call Foundation is available at kyleplushanswerthecall.org and the foundation’s Facebook page.

[sc:pullout-text-end]