Hospital Dispatcher Helps Save Suicidal Man

Carolinas Health Care System’s Odetta Mauney is September’s Campus Safety Hero for helping to save a man threatening to take his own life.

It’s an unfortunate reality that hospital security staff and police can sometimes encounter individuals who want to harm themselves. In some instances, the person might call campus public safety dispatch as a last ditch cry for help.

That’s what happened just before 2:30 a.m. on June 9 at Carolinas Health Care System (CHS) in Charlotte, N.C., when a distraught male made a call to dispatch from one of the campus’ blue light intercoms. The individual spoke with CHS Telecommunicator Odetta Mauney and made continuous threats to take his own life. According to CHS Security Communications Manager Alan Glickman and Director of Security Melvin Burns Sr., however, she immediately and instinctively engaged him in a conversation to calm him.

Dispatchers on that team, Patricia Williams and Manuel (Manny) Ruela, but especially Mauney immediately played a major role in detaining the suicidal male via the intercom call-box system. Together they coordinated an urgent CHS officer response to the area to locate the individual. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) and Medic were dispatched as well.

While all of this was happening, Mauney continued to maintain engagement with the individual twice, utilizing two different intercom phone calls, thereby stalling the distraught man even longer until officers could locate and approach him. Mauney’s efforts saved his life.

The officers who responded to the emergency sing the praises of CHS’ dispatch team.

“…Lady Odetta and Manny were very helpful in helping us find the distraught male,” says Officer N. Williams. “They were very descriptive with the specific location of the call boxes that the person used and were able to decipher this call as being legit very quickly. Once on the scene, we were not able to locate him at first but I heard Ms. Odetta’s voice talking to the person over the call box, which was outstanding and caring. Our dispatchers then stood by through radio and call box communication to help us in the situation, coordinating CMPD and Medic to our location. They are the greatest dispatch team, and we couldn’t have been there for that man if it wasn’t for them.”

Lead Officer D. Dix is also very complimentary of the dispatchers who were working that morning.

“…I must say on that night all dispatchers did a stellar job in keeping the distraught person at bay until we arrived on scene utilizing video and speaking with the person on the call box,” he says. “I would like to say with the upmost respect that Ms. Odetta did an outstanding job using her professionalism and great communicating skills. My hat is off to her for a job well done. Overall here on B-team nights, we have the most kind and intelligent dispatchers a person can every ask for. Ms. Odetta deserves a standing ovation for her hard work that was done that night.” 
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Mauney’s quick thinking and professionalism are why Campus Safety magazine is pleased to announce that she is September’s Campus Safety Hero. Kudos Odetta!

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About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray
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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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