Sometimes the universe conspires to bring together a multiplicity of situations, each of which would be a minor problem on it’s own, but when combined create potential for deadly mayhem. Last night I experienced that perfect storm, and it could end badly. Here’s a list of the things that could go wrong, and did: He didn’t call on a 9-1-1 line, and he didn’t speak English. Once a translator was on the line, he didn’t mention the single most important fact of the situation, or the translator failed to properly understand the emergency. He started off asking to speak to a particular officer, but mangled the name so badly that I had no clue who he was referring to, and wasted precious time trying to figure out who he might have meant. After much too much time was wasted on what would turn out to be unimportant details, he got around to explaining the problem. I about fell out of my chair once I understood what he was trying to convey. I was yelling for an ambulance to start, getting deputies responding code 3, and basically cursing him and the translator (to myself, never out loud) for beating around the bush when speed was of the essence.
September 27, 2014
July 5, 2014
I walked into the building at 7am, July 5, 1994, for the first time as an employee. Communications Operator I. Three months of training lay ahead, and a year’s worth of probation. The place was the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, the room was in the basement, in a space originally designed to be a gymnasium / weight lifting room. As of today, I’ve put in 20 years in that cramped space.
January 18, 2014
Around 11pm on a Friday, just after a full Moon, on a winter day where the temperature hit 72 degrees that afternoon. It’s almost scary.
December 11, 2013
Sometimes you really have to wonder.
Tonight we received a call on 9-1-1 from a woman who said she was in our parking lot and needed to have a deputy come out to speak to her immediately. When asked why she needed a deputy, she said she had been clearing out her deceased mother’s residence and had discovered two hand grenades, had brought them here, and needed someone to come get them.
That of course required the local bomb squad be called out, as the initial deputies determined that they appeared to be real, live grenades.
One of the incredible things about this caller was that she was getting very upset that we were unable to get someone out to her in four minutes, so she called back wanting to know what the delay was about. (the deputies are out on patrol, not in the building!) We got someone out shortly thereafter, they called the bomb squad, and the grenades were disposed of by the bomb techs. It didn’t dawn on her, apparently, that handling and transporting them was probably more dangerous than sitting in the parking lot waiting!
Rule of grenades (or other explosive devices) #1 – Leave them alone, and call 9-1-1! Don’t pick them up, don’t drive them someplace in your car, and don’t get huffy with the 9-1-1 operator trying to help you!
Rule of grenades (or other explosive devices) #2 – See rule #1
July 23, 2013
It happened again! Someone called someone else who called someone else, who called 9-1-1! SMH
An armed robber walked up to a food stand, brandished a firearm, and demanded cash. The clerk didn’t understand English, and the bad guy ran off. Rather than call 9-1-1, she called her boss, who called someone else, who called the police!
While all this was going on, an armed suspect was making his get-away, and since nobody bothered to tell anyone the description of the robber, we have no way to spot him while units are enroute.
RULE #1 – Call 9-1-1 first! It doesn’t matter what language you speak, we can get a translator on the line quicker than you can call someone else, tell them what happened, and then have them call.
July 5, 2013
We have procedures officers in the field are supposed to follow on the radio. They are designed to allow the quickest, most efficient transfer of information possible. It really gums up the works, and creates needless stress, when radio traffic is not conducted according to those procedures.
Last night, the 4th of July, was one of those nights that will have me cursing the name of a particular unit for a long time. Those in the know will probably figure out who I mean just from their own knowledge of the departments and personel involved, but I’m not going to name names (or unit numbers!) (even though my “about” blurb says the guilty will be hung out to dry! It is my job, so I have to be minimally diplomatic in this rant. I may still hear about it from upper echelons). I’m going to hope it’s simply a training issue, and not a case of “I’m the most important thing on this radio channel, and you better be able to handle what ever I do regardless of how many other things are going on!”.
How can any unit in the field not realize that there are 20-25 units on the same radio channel, it’s a national holiday, it’s hot as hell, and their dispatch center is a small room in the basement of the jail building? Are you not listening? You just key up and start talking? Really?