If you were unaware, I work as a 911 operator. I have told stories from the workplace and some have been horrifying and others have been funny. What I want to talk about today are some assumptions as to what goes on when we are taking a call. To start off, we take all calls. This includes emergency calls on 911 and non-emergency calls on our 7 digit lines. I have mentioned before that our calls range from scary to funny and it gets pretty busy at times. So what is going on when you call 911 and you’re put on hold? I have taken several calls in the past where I have had to put someone on hold. The call has come through on 911 and when it’s balls to the walls busy and multiple 911 lines are going off the beginning of a conversation goes like this,
“911 do you have an emergency?”
“What!? I called 911 didn’t I?”
“Yes you did but I have another emergency on hold so do you have an emergency?”
Now this is how it starts but the next part of the conversation can go a few different ways.
“Yes! I do have an emergency!”
“Ok, go ahead with your emergency.”
“Well…there is this dog that the neighbor has and it keeps coming into my yard.”
Meanwhile there is someone on hold who needs medical attention and I have to break the news that the dog in their yard is a lower priority and they will have to hold. They get upset and start swearing as the phone is put down. The other two ways will be callers who will say its an emergency and it really is or they will say no and hold. Otherwise, the scenario above is usually how it goes. Hard to believe? I think not. Another thing that people find hard to believe is that the officer who is going to their complaint isn’t right around the corner. We are constantly yelled at and talked down to because the officer isn’t there the moment after they call. There are only so many officers on at a time and it does take a little while to get someone there. They are not sitting around the corner of every home waiting to be dispatched out.
Let’s see what else….oh yes! A lot of people think that 911 is the number to call for parade and firework information. After much investigation it has been found that 911 is not the number to call for this. In fact it would be easier to pick up a newspaper or go online for this information. If you are told to hold or that we do not have this information, please don’t get upset with us. Also if you happen to call 911 on accident please stay on the line because in the end, we will find you anyway. We are here to help to the best of our abilities and we do our best every time. If you are put on hold please be patient. There is a very good reason for being put on hold and it can range from answering another 911 call to paging out fire and ems or another emergency service. I am proud of what I do and proud to work with an excellent group of people. Since there seems to be so much that people don’t understand I am going to give you an opportunity to heighten your education. Ask me anything you want and I will answer the best I can. Let’s have some fun with this!