12/16/1985 at 01:00 AM EST
It was Thanksgiving Eve, and little Shantelle McCuen was talking over the phone about what had happened to Billy Hebrew, her babysitter. Shantelle was calm, but she was, after all, just 2½ years old and not all that easy to understand. Wendy Liggitt, the dispatcher for the Lakewood, Colo. Police Dept., later learned that Shantelle lived with Billy, 17, and his mother, Carol, in nearby Wheat Ridge, but for the moment all dispatcher Liggitt knew was that she had to keep the little girl on the line long enough for Mountain Bell to trace the call.
Liggitt elicited from Shantelle the fact that Billy had fallen and was bleeding and she couldn't wake him up. "Where is he hurt?" asked Liggitt. "Where is he bleeding—the body?"
"No," said Shantelle.
By this time the phone company had a make on the address and the police were speeding to the rescue. Billy, it turned out, had tripped and tumbled down the stairs, hitting his head on the heat register at the bottom. When police arrived they found Billy still unconscious. Shantelle was at his side, hugging and kissing him and trying to pull his face out of the pool of blood.
Billy is recovered now—his injuries were minor, despite the loss of blood—and he can't say enough about his pint-size deliverer. "She is really smart," he says. "We always get compliments on her." Shantelle is so bright, in fact, that all Carol Hebrew had to do some months back was show her how to dial "O" for operator and the sloe-eyed, brunet tyke took it from there. She seemed to have an aptitude for the phone—too great an aptitude, it seemed for a while. "Several times," remembers Billy, "we walked in and caught her talking away to the operator. We had to explain: 'Only for emergencies!' "