It was the frantic call that sharply plunged a routine day at the Galax Police Department into a race against the clock, a race for a little boy’s life.
Aidan Walker, just 17 months old, had been feeling a little under the weather and was taking a nap with his grandmother Cheri Grable.
His mother Melissa Grable was out getting more medicine when suddenly, “He’s dying! He can’t breathe!”
“I scooped him up in my arms, at that point he was lifeless, and I yelled out to her, ‘Dial 911, dial 911, dial it now,’” Cheri said.
Aidan had a seizure and stopped breathing so they picked up the phone, placing all hope in the hands of the man on the other end of the line.
Dispatcher: “911 where’s your emergency?”
Caller: “Oh my God, my baby, my baby! He’s not breathing! Oh my God, oh my God!”
Dispatcher: “Anybody there that knows CPR?”
Caller “No! No! What do we do?”
It was at this crucial moment when dispatcher Tim Webb had a monumental decision to make.
Web knows CPR but the Galax Police Department does not have emergency medical dispatch certification.
That means dispatchers are not allowed to give out CPR instructions over the phone.
However, in this case, his chief said go ahead and he took a leap of faith.
“Without some sort of life-saving measures, the child would expire,” Galax Police Department Dispatcher Tim Webb said. “I wasn’t gonna let that happen, even if it meant being reprimanded.”
Caller: “This is my only son, I can’t lose him!”
Dispatcher: “I’m not gonna let you lose him. Put him on your kitchen table, OK?”
Dispatcher “All right, barely pinch his nose off and put your mouth over top of his mouth, and I need you to blow in it just a second and see, OK?”
Grandma Cheri sprang into action and, with no knowledge of CPR, began blowing life into her grandson.
The nearest ambulance was nearly 20 minutes from the Grable home, 20 minutes that seemed like an eternity.
“It was the scariest day of my life,” Melissa said. “All I could do was say a prayer, over and over and over, ‘please God, don’t take my son from me.’”
For this family, that prayer was answered by the dispatcher who put their little boy above himself.
That’s why a couple weeks later they made the trip to the Galax Police Department to say thank you by showing him a smiling face.
“It makes you realize why you get up, why you come to work and why you do what you do,” Webb said.