TUPELO • People know Facebook can be used to find old friends. It can also help find people in dire straits.
That was the case recently when Lee County authorities were searching in vain for a woman in the midst of a medical emergency in the middle of the night. When all other options were exhausted, the social media giant called with the woman’s exact coordinates.
Lee County 911 director Paul Harkins said his office first got a call from the woman’s mother around 11:30 p.m. The daughter was having a medical emergency but they could not locate her.
“We knew there was a body of water involved and that it was in Lee, Monroe or Itawamba county,” Harkins said. “We called Verizon to get a ping of her cell phone, but her last known location was from much earlier in the day.”
Dispatchers alerted all the agencies in all three counties to be on the lookout for Jada Strong, who might be near a body of water. What officials didn’t know was that Strong was streaming on Facebook Live.
“About 90 minutes into the search, we got a call from Facebook. They saw it unfolding on Facebook Live,” Harkins said. “It was a shock. They had never called us before.
“They gave us the (longitude and latitude) coordinates and we relayed the information on to the police and medics.”
The coordinates took officers within 200 feet of her car. It was close enough that when Tupelo police Sgt. Michael Summerlin rolled up seven minutes later, he could see the lake and tail lights in the water.
“The car was partially submerged,” Summerlin. “I swam out and pulled her out of the car. I tried to talk to her but it was apparent that she was unconscious.”
After getting her back to shore, the officer started CPR. Though officers go through first aid training yearly, this was the first time Summerlin had to use CPR.
“God blessed us (that night). After just a few compressions, she started coming around,” Summerlin said.
Birmingham Ridge volunteer firefighters and medics arrived to treat Strong, who made a full recovery.
During a reception Wednesday afternoon, Strong and her mother Nichelle Henderson thanked all of the officers, dispatchers and medics involved that night.
“I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for all you have done, the heroic actions that night,” Henderson said while looking out at members of the various agencies who searched for her daughter. “God sent these beautiful angels to save my baby.”
She particularly thanked Summerlin for jumping into the water and Tupelo Sgt. Jess Carter “who held my hand the entire time.”