Watch Prince William County’s video above. WARNING: The video includes audio of a dramatic 911 call that may be upsetting to some viewers.
Jeremy Schmeltzer said he thought he was going to die April 6 when he suffered a severe asthma attack.
“I remember trying to unlock my phone, but I was so frantic and shaking that I couldn’t,” the 22-year-old said.
Prince William County Telecommunicator Jeanette Watson took Schmeltzer’s call and, with the help of new technology at the 911 center, she helped save his life, according to a news release.
Watson asked for Schmeltzer’s address, but he couldn’t speak.
“I could hear everything that she was saying, but she couldn’t understand what I was saying,” he said. “It felt like time stopped a lot because I was just frantic over everything.”
In the past, cell phone detection could only place the person within a 50-meter radius — which could be one of several addresses in a townhome community.
Prince William County has made several technology enhancements over the past few years to address the demands of next generation 9-1-1 for the growing wireless, mobile population, said Eddie Reyes, the director of Prince William County’s Public Safety Communications.
“Real-time location accuracy technology is the latest improvement we’ve made, and we’ve proven that it is absolutely critical to have in this day and age to help save lives,” Reyes said.
While trying to help Schmeltzer, Watson turned to her coworker, who put his cell phone number into the new RapidSOS system, which can determine the location of a cell phone down to a couple of meters. “We pinpointed (the address),” she said. “I put it in, and as soon as I did that, I let him know that … we were getting somebody out there.”
By accurately pinpointing which town house Schmeltzer lived in, the rescue squad was able to confidently enter the correct home to get to him in time. “We went from the haystack to finding the needle at the bottom, and literally saving his life at the end of that call for service,” Reyes said.
Schmeltzer recently went to the county’s emergency communications center to meet Watson and all of the people on the rescue squad who helped save him. “That was one of the worst days I ever had,” he said, referring to that day in April. “If wasn’t for the combination of all the efforts of everybody in this room … I would not be here right now.”
Prince William Fire and Rescue Lt. Luke DeAtley was on the team that rescued Schmeltzer and said he and his team felt good about the save. “Once we got him to the ER, he was sitting up joking with us. We drop patients off all the time, and we don’t necessarily see the outcome. To have him be able to sit up and talk to us afterward and to know that everything came together was gratifying.”
Watson said the same. “It … makes me feel great that I was able to save a life. It actually makes me feel very thankful that I was here to help him, doing my job and using the tools that were given to us.”
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