Lost and Found - WRPS 9-1-1 Operators Help Lost Female and Dogs

Posted on Thursday April 18, 2019

The lush trees, scattered wildflowers, and diverse wildlife make the Dryden Tract Trail a favourite escape for people looking to enjoy a quiet, leisurely walk or hike.

But what started out as a peaceful walk surrounded by nature, soon turned to fear for one local woman. She had set out on the trail with her dogs when she suddenly found herself standing in a large wooded area, unsure of where she was or how she could get out.

“I was so scared,” she said. “I wasn’t sure where I was and who could help me.”

She took out her phone and immediately called 9-1-1.

A calm voice greeted her on the other end.

“9-1-1, what’s your emergency?” asked Waterloo Regional Police Service operator Olivia Sarrazin.

Olivia joined the Service three years ago, after completing the Broadcast Journalism and Communications program at Seneca College. She worked as a program manager and development officer for various children’s charities before fulling her dream of becoming a 9-1-1 operator.

“Knowing that we can make a difference and help someone every time the phone rings is rewarding to me,” Olivia said.

So when Olivia answered the call that evening from a frightened, lost woman, she did what she – and all WRPS 9-1-1 operators are trained to do – she helped.

“When we get calls about lost or confused parties, generally we are lucky enough to have a GPS coordinate that populates an idea as to where the person is. In this case, it showed that the complainant was in the middle of a dense forested area. This allowed us to visualize how far she was from the roadway and which direction she was taking.”

Part of the role of 9-1-1 operators is the ability to think quickly. They do this on a daily basis as they take a variety of reports, ranging from vehicle collisions to criminal acts in progress. While taking these calls, they are responsible for coordinating the appropriate response while remaining in communication with callers, attempting to keep them calm as they wait for help.

In this particular incident, Olivia used her experience with the app, AllTrails. By downloading the app, the caller could visually see where she was on the trail and how she deviated from her original path. Officers were quickly dispatched.

The end result?

A comforted caller and two very excited dogs.

“It was a team effort,” Olivia emphasized. “Everyone in the room has a role to play to ensure that we get the person on the other end of the line the help they need.”

The Waterloo Regional Police Service’s Communications Centre receives between 895 to 1,000 calls a day. Operators work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, often under stressful conditions. With every call, they remain professional and calm as they become the first voice someone hears when they call for help. On any given day, operators can talk a caller through performing CPR on a family member, calm a victim or witness of a violent crime, have a conversation with a confused elderly person or reassure a child that help is on its way.

The calls may be different, but the goal remains the same - to keep the residents of Waterloo Region and our first responders safe from harm.

To all of our 9-1-1 operators, we thank you for going Above & Beyond.

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