Kansas City firefighters dispatched on a girl’s call about shortness of breath ended up pulling two sisters to safety from a house fire late Thursday.
Fire crew members, who had spotted smoke as they neared the house, heard a cry of distress while running a hose through a home near Myrtle Avenue and East 69th Street.
“They heard a faint cry from the rear of the house,” said Fire Department Battalion Chief James Garrett. “They saw the older sister laying on top of the younger sister to protect her.
“They pulled both out of the house.”
The sisters didn’t respond to verbal commands and were not breathing, Garrett said. Emergency medical personnel placed airway tubes down both girls’ throats. The sisters, reportedly ages 15 and 5, were breathing before they were taken to a hospital for treatment, Garrett said.
The initial call came in at 11:39 p.m. from the older sister, who said she was having trouble breathing. Dispatchers, along with police and fire personnel, followed protocol in responding, Garrett said.
Although 911 call takers will route what seem to be Kansas City medical emergencies to Fire Department dispatchers, they were sufficiently troubled by this 911 call to also request police response.
“At some point the call was disconnected, and our dispatchers felt that she sounded strange enough that they wanted us to have police assistance,” Garrett said.
In that scenario, Garrett said, fire crews will be told to “stage,” or go to the scene, prepare and wait for police.
“As we staged, we saw heavy smoke coming from the house,” Garrett said. “At that point, our crew captain told our dispatchers that this indeed was a house fire.”
Firefighters then began to run the hose through the home and heard the cry, Garrett said.
Police and fire investigators continued Friday to try to determine what caused the fire. Kansas City police said bomb and arson investigators found nothing suspicious.
Although the girls were home alone and social workers responded to the hospital where the girls were being treated, detectives do not suspect any adults of neglect, and authorities have contacted the father of the 5-year-old, police said.
The girls reportedly were in serious condition, police said.