Hero 999 operator saves mute man’s life by realising tapping was cry for help

A 999 operator has been hailed a hero after her ‘gut instinct’ helped save a mute man’s life.

Kathryn Longstaff could only hear tapping when she answered a call from a 63-year-old man, while at work in Cleveland Police control room.

She said she knew something was wrong but quickly worked out the man couldn’t talk, but could understand everything she asked of him.

Due to a medical condition, he was unable to talk, but instead, tapped to let the call handler know the answers needed to get help.

Cleveland Police have released the 999 recording of the male caller, who they say is unable to be named for confidentiality reasons.

He dialled 999 on Saturday, February 16, after suffering a medical episode.

Kathryn said: "As soon as I picked up the call, I knew something wasn’t right and I had to think quickly of a way to communicate with him as I didn’t know at that point what sort of danger he was in.

"Thankfully he had contacted police before and his number and address were already on our system.

"This allowed me to ask him to confirm his personal details by tapping. I then asked if he was in danger and if he needed an ambulance.

"I even asked him if he could manage to open the door to allow medical services to access his house.

"As soon as I knew that he was in danger, my colleague dispatched officers to his address who also alerted the Medicar to attend as quickly as possible. Once it arrived, the man was rushed to James Cook University Hospital."

She added: "The man could only use a white board to communicate with staff and he wrote on it, to thank all the staff for saving his life, which was extremely moving."

Head of Cleveland Police force control room, Superintendent Emily Harrison added: "Kathryn is an absolute credit to the force, without her quick-thinking the man might not be alive today.

"This incident was extremely challenging for all involved and without the professional and calm actions of officers, staff and medical colleagues who worked above and beyond to ensure his safety, the outcome could have been very different."

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