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'Yes, if you have to' | 911 Telecommunicator keeps mom calm during mobile home fire, helps them escape

Chaka Mask used quick thinking to help get a mother and two kids out of a mobile home that was on fire.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The call came in on February 9. On the other line, the strong and persistent voice of operator Chaka Mask asked, "How many kids?"

Chaka was helping a panicked mother in a desperate situation. The woman was trapped in the bathroom as a fire was burning in her Okolona mobile home. Her 2-year-old and 6-month-old baby were with her. 

Mask told her to get her kids out through the bathroom window. In the 911 call, the woman asks if she should throw her kids in the mud. 

"Yes, if you have to," responded Mask. It ended up being life-saving advice. 

With the help of Mask and neighbors, the mom and her two kids were able to escape. The children were injured, but are expected to make a full recovery. 

On Friday, Mask was awarded for giving this family a second chance at life. 

"We don't hear the good things very often and this is something that we really need to take time to appreciate the people behind this call," said Metro EMS Director, Jody Meiman.

Credit: Jefferson County Fire

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Mask said it went back to her training: She thought about her family and said she would do anything to get them out. 

She also said this wasn't something she did alone - from her role in assisting the mother to neighbors and firefighters who stepped in to help, it was a team effort.

"Everybody is working as a team with the end goal of getting them out," Mask said.

Officials with Okolona Fire said the fire started because of an unattended candle and there wasn't a working smoke detector in the home.

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