A Texas 911 operator, Layla Wray, 39, was working an overnight shift last Saturday in Madison County, which is north of Houston, when she answered a call from her own 14-year-old daughter, Cassidy, who was reporting a fire at their home with her husband and son inside.
Wray reportedly kept her composure during the call, telling her daughter to “remain calm and that firefighters were on their way.” And at one point, the dispatcher had to tell her two children to stop bickering over the phone.
“They were bickering and all of I sudden I was like, ‘look, we don’t have time for that, we have other things going on. I need to know what’s happening there, not what you all little squabble is right now,'” the dispatcher said.
In an audio of the 911 call, Wray – who had been working as a 911 dispatcher for 18 months – can be heard answer a call, saying “911. What’s your emergency?” at around 12:20 a.m. on January 7.
“Mommy. Mommy. It’s Cassidy. The house is on fire. It’s going to burn us all,” the teen replied.
“All right. All right. Calm down. Calm down,” Layla said. “I’ve already got somebody en route. Okay? It’s Okay.”
When firefighters arrived at the scene, the house was engulfed in flames but the Wray family and their dogs made it out safely.
— WFIN News (@WFINradio) January 11, 2017
It was reported that the fire started on the porch, but investigators have yet to uncover how the fire started.
Madison County Sheriff Travis Neeley praised the way Layla handled the call.
“She did an outstanding job. She did what she was trained to do. How many people can sit there and do this job and take a call from their own child? She did a fantastic job.”
“This 911 call comes in and it was her own daughter. She gives her instructions and stays cool, calm and collected to get everybody out and told her everybody was on the way.
“She handled it very well. Most people in this situation would probably be — once they realized it was their house and their daughter — normal people would lose their mind.”
Neeley went on to say that it was extremely cold that night, “down to 17 or 18 degrees and the wind was pretty strong, so it didn’t take long for the whole house to get engulfed.”
The fire destroyed the 911 operator’s home and her family is now staying at a local hotel.
“We have a local citizen that paid for the hotel through January 15 while they get organized and try to make some long-term living arrangements,” Neeley said.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) January 10, 2017
“The poor thing works two jobs trying to make ends meet. They pretty much got stripped of everything but their life. But they’re the kind of people with good spirits and good faith. They may not have anything, but they have their life.”
The Wray family did not have fire insurance and the community came together, raising a little over $12,000 via Go Fund Me, where they are trying to reach $20,000 in donations.
“The family does not yet know where they will live and are currently staying in a motel. Funds will be used to replace necessities first as in clothing and hygiene products which are needed as soon as possible. Then they will use the funding to determine their future home.”
After the Wray family lost their home in a fire, the community has also made other contributions, such as donating shoes and clothes, according to Neeley, who added that the family will “pretty much have to start over with everything.”
Layla is expected to return to her dispatch position later this week.
[Featured Image By Steve Cole Images/iStock]