DENVER (KDVR) — In a city as large as Denver, 911 dispatchers deal with thousands of calls every day. But any dispatcher will tell you there are certain calls that stick with them. For Asisha Milton, that call came in April 2021 from nearly 800 miles away.
“I am in Tucson, Arizona, and my husband left this morning for Denver,” said the woman on the other end. “He’s in Denver right now, but he’s had a stroke. He’s in the car, but he doesn’t know where he is, and I don’t know what to do.”
Milton was able to reach the woman’s husband, named Cliff, on his cellphone but was unable to find out where he was. “He couldn’t tell me any information,” she said. “He couldn’t do the simple things that I ask him to do. I asked him to hang up and call 911 so we could get a better location, and he couldn’t do it.”
Milton’s supervisor, Tyler Rebbe, contacted Denver police to request a phone ping, which was quickly activated. But since Cliff wasn’t the one making the 911 call, the accuracy was hit or miss. “We knew he was in Denver,” Rebbe said. “The unfortunate thing was that the radius for that ping was about a mile wide. In that scenario in the middle of Denver, that’s a lot of places, a lot of streets to check. It was definitely a needle in a haystack situation.”
Denver Police Sgt. Tony Lopez Jr. assembled a team of officers and began a grid search, going block by block in the middle of the night in surrounding neighborhoods. Meanwhile, Milton tried relentlessly to get Cliff to hang up and call them instead, or to click on text messages that would reveal his location. Milton also asked him to honk his horn or sound his car alarm, but, she said, Cliff was unable to perform any of those tasks.
Roughly three hours into the call, police officers found him and called an ambulance to take him to the hospital. “I was ecstatic. I was so happy that we found him. I wanted to cry. I did not, but I wanted to,” Milton said. “When I got off the phone, my coworkers clapped and gave me a standing ovation. So that was nice.”
Milton has no idea what Cliff looks like and told us that’s the hard part of the job: They rarely meet or even know what happens to callers. In this case, if she ever gets the chance to meet Cliff, “I’d just want to give them a hug,” Milton said.
What are the signs of a stroke?
Call 911 if you suspect someone is having a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke. The acronym FAST is an easy way to remember some of the common warning signs of a stroke.
- Face drooping
- Arm weakness
- Speech problems
- Time to call an ambulance
When should you call 911?
You should call 911 for the following reasons:
- Stop a crime
- Report a fire
- Save a life
If you need to call 911, expect the call taker to ask specific questions regarding your emergency.