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Dispatcher Receives Call About Her House on Fire

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

HAYWOOD COUNTY, Tenn.- An emergency dispatcher in Brownsville received a 911 phone call while on duty stating her house was on fire.

Dispatcher Cherry Drake who has worked for Haywood County Emergency Dispatch for four years, told 7 Eyewitness News that taking calls from residents who are in desperate situations can be stressful. "It's scary at times and at times but other times you get to console people when they are in a time of need," said Drake.

While on duty, Drake said she experienced every dispatcher's worst nightmare. She unexpectedly answered an emergency 911 phone call from her son Wednesday. "He said mom and I'm like okay, who is this? He said it's your son, and then I realized his number and I just went numb," said Drake.

Drake's son was calling in to report a house fire, and the house on fire was her home. "I couldn't even speak my words out of my mouth," said Drake,"The other dispatcher, she helped me finish the call."

Haywood County dispatch Director Starla Singleton told 7 Eyewitness News this is the first time an operator has taken a serious personal call there but it is every employee's biggest fear.

"Fear of a house fire or your kids, you just never know when that phone rings. You don't know what's on the other end of it until you answer it," said Singleton.

Drake's son said the fire started because he fell asleep while cooking french fries. Fire officials have now declared the home a total loss. After losing everything, Drake said she is happy that her son made it out of the house alive. "Never take nothing for granted never no matter what the situation," said Drake.

Drake said she is now glad that she was the operator to take the call, but it will be tough returning back to work. "I'll be thinking if this is going to be my call again, " said Drake," but it's not because he's not going to cook anymore."

If you would like to help, the Brownsville Dispatch Center is accepting donations. Contact Director Starla Singleton with Brownsville-Haywood County Central Dispatch. Call (731) 722-1215 or Email: ssingleton@bhccd.org The Dispatch is located at 100 South Dupree in Brownsville, Tn 38012.

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