Saturday, April 18, 2009

A "Bulldog" Of A Dispatcher And Chat Room Strangers Help Find Endangered Teen

A doggedly determined dispatcher, a chat room community and a team of "techies" joined forces Tuesday night to find an endangered Roseville teen.

On Tuesday evening, April 14, Roseville Police and Fire dispatcher Kurt Anderson took a call from a young woman in Merced. She told Anderson that she was in an Internet chat room, where a teenager had disclosed that she had just purposely taken an overdose of pills. The Merced woman didn't know the name, address, or phone number of the girl--only that she lived in Roseville.

The Merced woman said that several visitors in the chat room, including the forum administrator on the east coast, pitched in to help. The Merced woman, the only other Californian in the chat room, agreed to call Roseville Police. The Merced woman, who requested anonymity, said, "I just did what I hope other people would do for me if I were in that situation."

While the other dispatchers took over Anderson's workload, Anderson got to work. He talked to the Merced woman on and off for more than an hour, as she relayed information from the forum administrator and other chat room members. At one point Anderson thought he had identified the girl's address. He made unanswered calls to the Roseville residence and even to surrounding neighbors, and dispatched officers there. It was the wrong house.

With the help of City of Roseville information technology staff, another Roseville address was identified. Roseville police officers and paramedics were dispatched again.

While emergency units were responding, Anderson telephoned the house and spoke with an adult woman. She confirmed she had a teenage daughter, who was asleep in bed. Anderson explained the situation, and urged her to check on her daughter. The girl was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

Dave Applebaum, one of the Roseville Information Technology employees called to assist in the search, said of Anderson, "Kurt was amazing. He's a bulldog. He would not give up."

Police Chief Mike Blair said, "A whole team, including that compassionate young woman in Merced, came together to prevent a tragedy. Dispatcher Kurt Anderson deserves special recognition for his determination and resourcefulness."

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