Have you ever heard the playback of 911 tapes on tv for high profile cases? Why do the dispatchers always seem super hard of hearing, confused, disbelieving, and unable to grasp the gravity of the situation? It’s as if they forget their purpose for answering the phone. They always ask for totally irrelevant details from people simply asking for help. The people calling 911 go from panicked to extremely angry with the dispatchers; it’s like watching an episode of the three stooges. A typical call ALWAYS goes like this:
Operator: 911 what is your emergency?
Good Samaritan in a clear voice: We need an ambulance, hurry, there’s been a car accident and people are hurt.
Operator: Sir calm down
Good Samaritan: Ok
Operator: There’s been a what?
Good Samaritan talking slowly and loudly: A car accident on Route 5 in front of Fred’s gas station with 2 people hurt
Operator: A car?
Good Samaritan: Yes, a car
Operator: It wrecked?
Good Samaritan: Yes
Operator: Someone wrecked a car?
Good Samaritan: YES!!!!!!
Samaritan: I don’t know, some guy
Operator: What kind of car?
Samaritan: What? I don’t know! A compact car
Operator: Sir you need to calm down.
Samaritan: I AM CALM!
Operator: Sir what is your name?
Samaritan: It’s Joe. Are you sending somebody now?
Operator: No, sir first I need to know what color shoes do you have on?
Samaritan: What? M’aam we need ambulances here!
Then you hear the operator tell her supervisor, “This guy claims that he sees wrecked cars or UFO’s or something.”
Samaritan: I’m not making this up!! I definitely see a wrecked car with people hurt! CAN YOU PLEASE SEND SOMEONE!?
Operator speaking in a sarcastic voice: Sir you need to calm down or I can’t help you. Now start from the beginning…first I need to know what did you have for breakfast?
Then you hear the Samaritan telling people at the scene: I don’t think anybody is coming to help, we’re on our own, this lady is a few French fries short of a happy meal.
Don’t worry though, our local communication center isn’t like that. Hopefully none of us will ever have to do go through that Abbot and Costello routine we constantly hear on the Dateline episodes when we need help!