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See the ingenious way a heroic 999 call handler communicated with a man who can’t speak thereby saving him


A man who can’t speak called 999 to ask for help and the way the 999 call handler communicated with him has left many in awe and is bound to leave you feeling the same way.

The emergency call handler has been praised for her quick-thinking after coming up with a clever way to communicate with a man who can’t talk, thereby saving him.

Kathryn Longstaff, who is in her 40s, was on duty when a call came in. The heroic call handler, who is based near Middlesbrough, took the call but heard no voice. She only heard someone knocking. Rather than consider the caller as unserious and end the call, Kathryn did something amazing.

She put her expertise to the test and communicated with the man by asking him a series of questions, asking him to answer “yes” or “no” by tapping.


She kept reassuring him during the call and promised that an ambulance is on the way. She spoke to him throughout and communicated in a way that made it eay for him to answer by knocking. When the answer was yes, he tapped. When it was no, he didn’t.

The man, who has not been named, is a 63-year-old man. He dialled 999 on Saturday, February 16 after suffering a “medical episode”’ and due to an existing medical condition, he was unable to talk, and instead tapped to let Kathryn know he was there.

The audio of the 999 call was recently released and Kathyrn has been hailed as “an absolute credit” to her police force, Cleveland Police.

Kathryn said:

As soon as I picked up the call, I knew something wasn’t right and I had to think quickly of a way to communicate with him as I didn’t know at that point what sort of danger he was in.

Thankfully he had contacted police before and his number and address were already on our system.

This allowed me to ask him to confirm his personal details by tapping. I then asked if he was in danger and if he needed an ambulance.

I even asked him if he could manage to open the door to allow medical services to access his house, which he was able to do.

As soon as I knew that he was in danger, my colleague dispatched officers to his address who also alerted the Medicar to attend as quickly as possible.

Once it arrived, the man was rushed to James Cook University Hospital.

Kathryn added:

The man could only use a whiteboard to communicate with staff and he wrote on it to thank all the staff for saving his life, which was extremely moving.

Head of Force Control Room, Superintendent Emily Harrison said:

Kathryn is an absolute credit to the Force, without her quick-thinking the man might not be alive today.

This incident was extremely challenging for all involved and without the professional and calm actions of officers, staff and medical colleagues who worked above and beyond to ensure his safety, the outcome could have been very different.

I would personally like to thank everyone involved in this incident, it highlights the challenging work our Force and partner agencies have to deal with on a daily basis.

Listen to the audio of the 999 call below.

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