Keena Woods-Smith, a 911 dispatcher from Milwaukee, WI, never had an emergency quite like this one. It wasn’t medical and no one was robbed, but there was someone in danger.
A distraught father was standing in the backyard of his home pointing a gun to his head, right in front of his son and the mother of his child. He told them he was going to kill himself.
The mother called 911 and the chilling phone call was recorded. The woman was trying to talk her boyfriend out of it. Woods-Smith could hear a small child repeatedly telling his daddy that he loved him. It was then that the dispatcher knew what was at stake.
Woods-Smith knew she had to get through to this father or something horrifying would happen. Incredibly, she kept her cool, but inside she knew she had to get him to put that gun down.
The girlfriend handed the phone over to the distressed man. He didn’t care that the police were coming.
“I need you to put that gun down. I need you to put it down. I don’t want you to harm yourself, OK? What’s going on in your head right now?” Woods-Smith asked him.
“I’m taking my life right now before they get here,” he said.
Woods-Smith recited a prayer in her head. Then somehow, she said exactly what she needed to say to get through to him.
“No, no, no, no. I don’t want you to do that. I don’t know you, but you don’t sound like a bad person. You sound like a really nice person. If you do that, it’s going to affect a lot of people’s lives,” she told him.
Seconds later, the man put the gun down. He chose not to end his life. Woods-Smith asked the woman to tell him to come and hug her. It was as if she knew all the father needed was a reassurance of kindness and love.
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