Tupelo student stays calm, saves house

By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Calling 911 to report an emergency may seem like a straightforward task, but when a kitchen is on fire, dispatchers say many callers forget their address or become hysterical.
J’monica McCoy, 13, of Tupelo, was recognized Friday morning by Lee County Communications for remaining calm and helping emergency crews locate her house last week after a fire started in her kitchen.
“Very calmly she gave all the information that was needed as her mother was inside desperately trying to put the fire out,” said Tanya Mayo, quality improvement supervisor for Lee County Communications. “She gave the address of her home, the call back number – in case we were disconnected – and that the fire was in the kitchen so we knew to send the fire department.”
Jo Escher, the dispatcher who took McCoy’s call, said McCoy did what people are supposed to do when they call 911 but most callers don’t.
“If all of our callers could do as well as J’monica did, we could prevent more emergencies,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know their address or they’ll just call and throw the phone down thinking we can track all cell phones. But we can’t track some cell phones.”
McCoy’s mother, Bridgette McCoy, said she began heating grease on her kitchen stove and got distracted by a group of wasps outside her kitchen window. “As I was figuring out how to spray the wasps, my neighbor caught my attention and we started talking,” she said. “When J’monica went back in the house, smoke hit her in the face.”
J’monica then grabbed a cell phone, went outside where she could get service and called 911.
Lee County Communications Director Paul Harkins said cell phones are great because they allow anyone to call 911 from anywhere.
“How do we know where anywhere is? By knowing your address,” Harkins said. “That’s the key.”
jb.clark@journalinc.com