May 8, 2013
9-1-1, 911, 911 calls, Amanda Berry, Charles Ramsey, Cleveland kidnap victims escape, dispatch, rude dispatcher
Should 9-1-1 operators kiss your ass, or save it?
Recent news coverage of the escape of three women from a decade long imprisonment, after their kidnappings as teens, has many people commenting on a perceived lack of empathy or concern for the victims on the part of the 9-1-1 operators in Cleveland, Ohio. Most of the criticism is unwarranted.
Amanda Berry, the woman who escaped from the house, can be heard calling 9-1-1, here. The call by the man who assisted her, Charles Ramsey, can be heard here. Go listen, then come back and let me give you my take on the calls.
Ok, back? Before we begin, a reminder: I’m a 9-1-1 dispatcher. I’ve been employed in this position by a county Sheriff’s Department in Central California since July of 1994. Which county is not germain, as this commentary is my personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of that agency.
That said, now it’s time to decide – should the 9-1-1 operator kiss your ass, or save it?
January 23, 2013
9-1-1, 911, PSAP, text to 911, text-to-9-1-1, texting
Sending text messages to 9-1-1 is something few PSAPs (Public Safety Answering Points) are ready to receive. The ability is in the works, however, and the FCC is working with carriers and 9-1-1 centers to roll out the service beginning this year. If you attempt to send a text message to a 9-1-1 center that is not capable of receiving it, after June 30, 2013 you will get a “bounce back” message telling you to use other means to reach 9-1-1. Prior to June 30, you will receive no notice that your message did not go through. Equipment upgrades and policy decisions must still be implemented in most PSAPs before they will be able to respond to text based 9-1-1 calls. If you intend to use text messages as a way to contact 9-1-1, you should check with your local PSAP to find out when they will be able to receive and act on your message. Until then, use voice, TTY, or relay services to reach 9-1-1.
May 18, 2012
9-1-1, commentary, Personal
9-1-1, 9-1-1 center, 9-1-1 dispatching, 911, emergency dispatching, Prince George's County Dispatch
Our center is not as roomy or well lit (too many of my co-workers want to work in the dark!), but this video gives a great overview of most modern 9-1-1 centers. We don’t have to do the medical pre-arrival aspect in our center, that’s handled by the Tulare County Consolidated Ambulance Dispatch staff, and the Tulare County Fire Department has their own dispatch center, but everything else is pretty spot-on. Whatever the type of call, we deal with it first, directing it to TCCAD or TCFD if required, or taking information and dispatching Tulare County Sheriff Deputies, or police officers from Farmersville, Exeter, Woodlake, and Lindsay Police Departments. Prince George’s County, Maryland, has a state-of-the-art 9-1-1 center, and is an example to which other centers can aspire. Every type of incident here, except the medical instructions, is something I’ve dealt with in the past, and just when you think you’ve heard it all, the Universe will toss something at you, as if to say “oh, no you haven’t!”.
April 13, 2012
9-1-1, commentary, Personal
9-1-1, 911, dispatcher, dispatcher stories, emergency services, National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week
By Chief Thomas Wagoner
Loveland (Colo.) Police Department
Someone once asked me if I thought that answering telephones for a living was a profession. I said, “I thought it was a calling.”
And so is dispatching. I have found in my law enforcement career that dispatchers are the unsung heroes of public safety. They miss the excitement of riding in a speeding car with lights flashing and sirens wailing. They can only hear of the bright orange flames leaping from a burning building. They do not get to see the joy on the face of worried parents as they see their child begin breathing on its own, after it has been given CPR.
Dispatchers sit in darkened rooms looking at computer screens and talking to voices from faces they never see. It’s like reading a lot of books, but only half of each one.
Dispatchers connect the anxious conversations of terrified victims, angry informants, suicidal citizens and grouchy officers. They are the calming influence of all of them-the quiet, competent voices in the night that provide the pillars for the bridges of sanity and safety. They are expected to gather information from highly agitated people who can’t remember where they live, what their name is, or what they just saw. And then, they are to calmly provide all that information to the officers, firefighters, or paramedics without error the first time and every time.
February 17, 2012
911, TCSO, tulare county sheriff
Working channel two tonight. You can listen on smart phone apps like 5-0 Radio, online at radioreference.com (California, Tulare County Sheriff, ch 2), or locally on your scanner at 453.650 MHz.
September 11, 2011
commentary, geek, Personal
911, blogging, weird coincidence
My previous post did something interesting.
After I posted it, but before going to the page, WordPress sent me this little message:
This is your 520th post. Hip! This post has 911 words.
911 words. On 9/11. I doubt I could deliberately do that if I tried!
July 31, 2010
9-1-1, commentary, Personal
9-1-1, 911, dispatcher stories, night from hell, thursday from hell
A busy night in dispatch last Thursday. Sometimes it’s slow, sometimes it’s busy, and some nights it’s just crazy batshit nuts. Thursday was the lattermost.
A murder always sends us into a frenzy. First, the 9-1-1 calls start flooding in, everybody within blocks grabs a cell phone and dials. Most of them have no clue what happened, or where they are, they just scream at us to get the cops there, and why are we asking all these dumb questions?? And EVERY call has to be answered and checked, because we never know when the most important bit of information will come in, or from where. And in the middle of the chaos, we still have to deal with the normal traffic load, because that doesn’t stop just because someone got shot! There could be someone else needing an ambulance, or their house could be on fire, or their baby could be choking. It all has to be handled, right now, and correctly.
February 4, 2010
9-1-1, Humor, Personal
9-1-1, 911, emergency calls, scanner
1st mystery of 9-1-1: Why are you whispering?? Odds are very good “they” couldn’t hear you if you were screaming, and they’re probably too busy fighting with each other to notice you’ve left the room. When I ask you to speak up, that doesn’t mean “speak even quieter!” You called for help, but you’re on your cell phone, the signal is crappy, and they’re not designed to compensate for low voice levels. You’re already in the same house, they’re going to know who called when the police show up, so whispering really doesn’t do anything to insure “they don’t know” you’re calling! I can’t help you if I can’t hear you! There’s no address information from a cell phone, and the location technology isn’t reliable. Oh, I might know where you are, within a 1/2 mile or so, but if there’s anyone else there, or you’re in, say, an apartment complex… well, you could be SOL. Speak up!
2nd mystery of 9-1-1: I understand you being upset that the neighbor’s music is loud, even inside your house. I understand that you “can’t hear your own television” over the noise. What I don’t understand is why you ask me “not to put it out over the radio, because they have a scanner”. If YOU can’t hear YOUR television over the noise, how in the heck are THEY going to hear the scanner?? So, yes, the call is going out over the radio. If they have a scanner that can outmuscle that powerful of a stereo, I WANT ONE! And secondly, if they do manage to hear the scanner, and turn down the music before we get there, then your problem has been solved! Either way, you win!