Grainger County 911 dispatchers save 4-week-old infant's life

GRAINGER COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Thanks to fast-thinking Grainger County 911 dispatchers, a mother was able to save her four-week-old infant from choking last year.

Dispatcher Tennie "Tee" Roberts took a call on Nov. 17, 2018, from a mother named Heather Watson because she had found her baby, Dallas, unresponsive and not breathing in his swing. Watson told Roberts she had just left the room for a second, but when she returned he was turning blue and had blood in his mouth.

Roberts and another dispatcher, Allie Mathis, jumped into action, telling Watson over the phone how to clear Dallas' mouth and do CPR.

"Shortly after, the baby began to cry," Grainger County 911 wrote in a news release. "Roberts stayed on the phone with Watson to reassure her that help was on the way."

Once first responders were on the scene, Dallas was breathing on his own. He was taken to the East Tennessee Children's Hospital then transferred to Vanderbilt hospital for treatment. Doctors said the dispatchers' early intervention saved his life, and he's now a healthy 7-month-old child.

“We’re as proud as anyone could be,” Grainger County Emergency Services Communications District director Randy Holt said. “Just to be nominated is a great honor. The competition we were up against — when we’re as good as they are — is a big deal.”

Roberts followed the Medical Prioty Dispatch System guidelines in order to save the child, and she had just completed her training a week prior to the boy's brush with death.

Watson brough her son to the 911 center on April 12 to meet the dispatchers who saved his life. As she hugged the Roberts, she broke down into tears.

"That's why we do it, right here," Roberts can be heard saying in the video.

"I appreciate it more than you'll ever know," Watson responded.

The Star of Life award is given to just six groups in Tennessee each year, and this year Roberts and Mathis accepted it on behalf of the team.