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Guilford Metro 911 operators awarded for kidnapping rescue call

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A team of communicators at Guilford Metro 911 were recently awarded twice for how they handled a kidnapping call this year.

Emergency Communications Specialist Danette McNeal first took the call on Aug. 29 around 3 pm.

“The girl asked to be transferred to the airport police. So I did what she asked and transferred her to the airport police, but somehow she got disconnected or hung up the phone.”

McNeal attempted to reconnect the call, but the girl didn’t pick up. A dispatcher since 2001, McNeal’s instinct told her not to give up.

“I tried one more time to call her, and I got her on the phone. She said she was at a gas station near the Greensboro airport and needed help.”

“Did he kidnap you or take you from somewhere?” McNeal asked in the 911 call. “Yes, from South Carolina, Columbia, I was in Columbia,” the girl responded tearfully.

The team immediately went into rescue mode. McNeal tried to keep the girl on the phone while her coworkers tracked the cell phone, called in officers, and tried to pinpoint the victim’s location.

“The girl was a young teenager and said she’d been with her friends in South Carolina a few nights before and this guy had taken her from there and brought her here. She had no clue where she was. She thought he was going to the airport to switch into a new car,” McNeal explained.

Being a mother of three kids, all she could think was, “I need to get this child some help.”

Master Telecommunicator Dana Hall explained, “She knew she was somewhere near the Greensboro airport where she thought this person was going to take her. She started describing locations, buildings, did not have any addresses.”

But the girl did know she was at a gas station and said the suspect had left her alone for a few minutes in the vehicle. McNeal believes the girl managed to find a cell phone in the car.

“I need you to get out of the car,” McNeal instructed the girl. “I don’t have shoes,” she responded. “Honey- that doesn’t matter, I want someone to help you. I think if you get out of the car and people are around, I can help you.”

Since the girl couldn’t see the suspect anywhere, Danette convinced her to go into the convenience store, lock herself in the bathroom, and stay on the phone until police arrived.

Meanwhile, McNeal's team tracked them to a gas station off West Friendly Avenue.

Officers arrived and took the suspect into custody. The girl was rescued and returned to her family in South Carolina.

Hall said they don’t always know how their calls turn out so in this case it was a relief to know everything was okay. “That’s always a great feeling, but the phone never stops ringing. Then we’re on to the next call and our next success we hope!”