Wichita Tornado Victim 911 Calls Released

By: Jeff Herndon Email
By: Jeff Herndon Email

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

As the tornado ripped through southeast Wichita and Oaklawn, 911 dispatchers kept busy taking call after call from frantic residents. A few of those 911 recordings were released on Tuesday. Some of the audio is difficult to understand, but the fear and the concern in the voices of callers is clear.

The calls are like a timeline that paints a picture of terror for the people in the path of the tornado. It begins with calls from spotters who see the tornado approaching, including one from an off duty EMT.

Caller: "I am an EMT for Sedgwick County Emergency Management. I have a tornado on the ground two miles north of my location."

Moments later, the calls go from tornado sightings to tornado damage. This caller reports significant damage at 71st Street South and Hydraulic Street near Haysville.

Dispatcher: "Sedgwick County 911, in what city is your emergency?"
Caller: "Wichita, Kansas, Reporting significant tornado damage at 71st and Hydraulic."
Dispatch: "71st and Hydraulic?"
Caller: "Yes."
Dispatch: "Is anybody hurt?'
Caller: "I can't tell, it's all dark. There is tree damage all throughout the area."
Dispatch: "What exactly?"
Caller: "Just houses and trees."
Dispatch: "Mostly trees?"
Caller: "Yes, Houses and trees."

As the tornado moved northeast, growing stronger, calls from people living at the Pinaire mobile home park in Oaklawn started pouring into dispatch.

Dispatch: "Sedgwick County 911, what city is your emergency in?"
Caller: "I'm in the Pinaire mobile home park."
Dispatch: "Where?"
Caller: "Pinaire Mobile Home Park."
Dispatch: "OK."
Caller: "The tornado just hit here."
Dispatch: "OK, 205 South Clifton. OK. Is anyone hurt?"
Caller: "I have no idea. There are several people here who didn't go to the shelter."
Dispatch: "OK. So the tornado did go through?"
Caller: "Yes, it did."

Difficult to understand, this caller is reporting not only tornado damage in the park, but also a fire.

Caller: "In the Pinaire mobile home park, we have a fire here ..((not audible)) I think we have a fire here in one of the trailers in the trailer park .. but they can't get in, it's blocked."
Dispatch: "OK sir, listen, is the trailer is on fire?"
Caller: "We can see a fire."
Dispatch: "You say a tornado hit it?"
Caller: "Yes."

As we know now, despite all of that chaos, nobody lost their lives in Kansas.

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