By Brian Burnes, The Kansas City Star
Kansas City firefighters dispatched on a shortness of breath call ended up pulling two sisters to safety from a house fire late Thursday.
Fire crew members, who had spotted smoke, heard a cry of distress while running a hose through a home near Holmes Road and East 69th Street shortly before midnight.
“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, Garrett said, and were not breathing. 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.
Dispatchers, along with police and fire personnel, followed protocol on the call, said Garrett.
Though 911 call takers will route what seem to be Kansas City medical emergencies to fire department dispatchers, they were sufficiently troubled by the 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 of one of the sisters, Garrett said.
Police and fire investigators continued Friday to try to determine what caused the fire.
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