Even if we originally bought portable phones for security, by now they’re part of our everyday routine, like checking whether everyone wants Mexican tonight. But these families will never forget the difference a cell phone can make in an emergency.
Baby on board
When Jodi Meyer woke up at 2:30 A.M. on January 18, 2000, she felt a weird ache in her stomach. To be on the safe side, Jodi, eight and a half months pregnant with her third child, mad her husband, Bill, headed for the hospital in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Ten minutes into the trip, Jodi’s water broke. Oh my God, she thought, we’re still 50 miles away. As her contractions began to come faster, they realized they weren’t going to make it. Bill pulled over and called the OB/GYN unit on his cell.
“I screamed, `Help! We’re in the middle of nowhere and my wife’s about to give birth in our van!'” Bill recalls. Calmly, the nurse began to talk him through the delivery, with Jodi lying on the inclined passenger seat–door open and heat blasting–and Bill standing half outside in subzero cold. By the time the ambulance arrived, the baby’s head and shoulders had emerged. All was going so well that the crew stood back and let Bill deliver his new son, Kyler. “It seems like a dream now,” says Bill, “and I get weepy every time I think about it.”
A lifesaving warning
The sun was shining as Mary Bickel and her daughter Denise left a family Christmas celebration in Oregon last December. But when they entered a fog bank, Mary’s truck skidded across a patch of black ice and rolled twice before landing driver’s side down. Denise made it out of the car, but Mary’s body was wedged between the door and the wheel.
Miraculously, Mary’s cell phone was still within reach. As she was dialing 911, another driver pulled over for what seemed like an answer to her prayers: He was ready to help Denise lift her out of the wreckage. That’s when the 911 agent, now on the line, gave her crucial advice: “Don’t let him move you,” he warned. “You could end up paralyzed.” Later, paramedics safely removed her from the car.
Still grateful for those life-saving words, Mary recently celebrated a landmark birthday. “A lot of my friends weren’t so happy about turning fifty.” she says. “But thinking how close I had come to not making it, I was thrilled.”
What’s different about wireless 911
You can reach 911 from any cell phone, even if the service plan isn’t active. But you need to handle the call differently from one you’d make on your home line.
* The first words you utter to the dispatcher should be your cell number, in case you get disconnected.
* If you’re in trouble, but it’s not an emergency–a flat tire, say–call a local garage (it’s wise to program these numbers into your phone book). Dial 311 if it’s available, or check highway signposts for the local nonemergency cell phone number (it may start with the star key).
* Give the dispatcher your location, citing any landmarks. Amazingly, Esther Green, wife of New York Jets football player Victor Green, managed to do this while being carjacked! Esther was in the back seat of her car, retrieving a juice cup for then ten-month-old Victoria, when a man climbed in the front and started driving. Secretly dialing 911 (her cell phone was tucked inside a diaper bag), Esther screamed loud enough for the dispatcher to hear. “I said things like, `Let me and my baby out! Drop us at the Exxon! Why are you going down Route 314 to the airport? Where are you taking me? You can have my Mercedes–just let us out!'” As a result of her quick thinking, police were able to track the car and save Esther and her daughter