Boston police 911 operator ‘a hero’ for helping find MBTA rider in a hole

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Moneeka Colston kept her cool — it’s what she does as a 911 call taker — allowing a frightened MBTA rider to escape a really bad day on the subway.

Colston calmly helped first-responders find a man who had fallen into a void in a wall at the Back Bay Station a week ago today. He panicked and called 911. That’s when Colston took over.

“He didn’t know where he was,” she told the Herald Friday. “I kept asking him questions: ‘What did he hear?’ He said ‘highway noise.’ I then asked him ‘What did he see?’ He answered ‘construction’ and ‘graffiti.’”

She relayed all that to police at the scene and the information helped them find the man. But she also stayed with the man for about an hour assuring him he would be rescued. The man said he had been stuck in the hole for hours.

Police report the victim was safely extricated and transported to a local area hospital for treatment of injuries that were considered to be serious but non-life-threatening in nature.

The police made Colston available for interviews to illustrate, it appears, a story of an unsung employee who takes more than her share of difficult calls.

“She’s a hero,” said Sgt. Detective John Boyle, the city’s police spokesman. “Detectives and patrolmen rely on these unsung heroes for their professionalism and they work 24 hours a day 7 days a week — and they can’t work from home.”

Colston said last weekend’s call was unlike others since she remained on the line until the job was done. But it hasn’t always been that easy.

Early in the pandemic, she fielded a call from a young man who said he was going to take his own life. A shooting was then called in from the same address.

“He was calling to let me know, ‘I’m going to kill myself.’ Then he hung up,” Colston said, adding once she realized the shooting was at the same address and the young man was dead she “got up with tears rolling down my face.”

She added she “had to walk off the floor. It wasn’t just a call, it was someone’s child.”

That’s how she told the Herald she approaches the job.

“My viewpoint is if I had a loved one calling 911, I would want that call taker to act the same way,” she added. That’s why Moneeka Colston was saluted yesterday.

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