Northern California

Heard but Never Seen, the Voices Behind 911

"Everybody that works here every single day is a hero. Everybody here handles all kinds of situations and a lot of times they don't get credit for it."

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The heroes being honored are heard, rarely ever seen but are always ready to answer the call when help is needed during an emergency. They are the voices behind 911.

One 911 operator receives an average of 150 calls in a 24 hour day.

They are known as the unseen faces behind the LAPD's 911 communications division. With 600 employees, it's the LAPD's largest unit.

It's a high-stress job that demands quick thinking.

"What can I do in this desperate moment," said 911 Police Service Representative, Agegaye Scianni.

That was the same question Police Service Representative Dana Kono asked herself in May of 2016 when a co-worker got a call from a hiker who had been lost for days in the hills above Chatsworth.

"He was getting dehydrated, exposure," Kono said.

The hiker had limited cell service and two percent battery life but he was able to provide 911 with one very important clue.

"He says, 'I see airplanes.' I know what he's looking at," Kono said. "He's looking at the flight path from Northern California into either Van Nuys or Burbank."

Air traffic control was able to zero in on his location.

Kono suggested a way for him to catch the rescuers attention.

"Turns out he had on a bright blue shirt underneath and I think on the news you see him waving the shirt when the helicopter came overhead," Kono said.

The hiker was saved and Kono was awarded the department's lifesaving medal.

"Sometimes it's not that dramatic but that's what we do every day in some shape or forms," said Timothy McRae, a Police Service Representative.

McRae's award-winning moment came just after the department rolled out the new text to the 911 program.

"I got a text from a woman saying her boyfriend was attacking her," McRae said.

The woman was hiding and afraid to talk, McRae got the police there right away.

"You have to be able to think quickly and think out of the box," Scianni said.

"Everybody that works here every single day is a hero. Everybody here handles all kinds of situations and a lot of times they don't get credit for it," said McRae.

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