911 dispatcher credited with helping save ailing motorist, child passengers

By: 
Dave Marner
Managing Editor

An Osage County dispatcher is credited with instructing a 14-year-old girl on how to steer her father’s careening car to a stop Tuesday morning on the U.S. 50 bridge over the Gasconade River when he became incapacitated during a medical episode.

Arissa Huff, her sister, Gabby Hale, 14, and their brother, Jesse Huff, 10, were traveling east on U.S. 50 approaching the river at Mt. Sterling with their father, Ian Huff, driving when he suffered a low-blood sugar event.

Medical personnel arriving on the scene reported his blood sugar had dropped to the dangerously low level of 25. An inquiry was made over the radio dispatch of the incident if the Owensville man was even still alive.

“There was a lot of bravery on the part of the 14-year-old,” said Casey Branson, a supervisor with the Owensville Area Ambulance District. “They saved not only themselves but they saved their dad as well. They could have ended up in the river.

Branson also credited the woman dispatching ambulance personnel to the scene with helping save the lives of not only the father but of his three children. Branson said the father gave his permission to discuss the episode and share information about the incident with the media.

Colet Davis was dispatching at 10:28 a.m. Oct. 30 when the emergency call was placed by Arissa. Davis said Arissa told her she was steering her father’s car and he was unresponsive. They were near Freedom and over the next 14 minutes Davis stayed on the line with Arissa and her siblings.

The incident occurred over a distance of approximately four miles.

“He was having a true medical emergency,” said Davis, who began her career in emergency services as an EMT in 1990. “His daughter said he was diabetic and was having an emergency. She couldn’t get him awake.”

Davis advised the siblings to make sure they had their seat belts on and to put on the vehicle’s hazard lights. Davis said she was informed they were traveling about 25 miles per hour heading down toward the Gasconade River valley — with a steep decent ahead before reaching the bridge itself.

“She said she was trying to keep it out of the ditch and didn’t want her dad to hit anybody,” said Davis, a dispatcher for the past five years. “She told me right away her dad was a diabetic. She knew he was having a diabetic emergency. Smart kid.”

On the descent into the river valley, Davis said she told Arissa to put the car in neutral. The vehicle slowed as they approached where the road leveled out in the flats and then begins to rise again as they entered the bridge complex itself. When the vehicle came to a stop, the teen put the car in park as instructed.

Ambulance personnel, who had been dispatched as soon as the incident began, arrived only a few minutes later. Davis said the emergency call ended at 10:42 a.m. when medical personnel arrived.

Huff responded after ambulance personnel administered fluids to him, according to radio traffic from the scene. Additional details were not available at deadline. A call placed to Huff Tuesday afternoon was, understandably, not returned.