Tuesday, June 17, 2014

911: "If This Is An Emergency, Hang Up and Call …"

Americans have become used to being transferred into purgatory on "customer service" calls, but 9-1-1?  In New Port Richey, Florida, a married couple with a child and a visiting in-law called 9-1-1 in response to a home invasion in progress, only to be transferred to a recorded message.  The dispatcher who picked up the 9-1-1 call wasn't "qualified" to respond to a call requiring assistance from law enforcement, and transferred the call to the Sheriff's Department's non-emergency line, which played the emergency victims a recorded message suggesting they consider calling 9-1-1 if they had an emergency.

This didn't just happen once: the victims called back and got the same response again.

In a Kafka-esque twist, the person who was qualified to field the call was sitting right next to the dispatcher who proved incompetent to transfer the call.  You'd think that "help I'm being attacked" would elicit enough concern to hand the phone over, or grab the person who could help so the right assistance could be brought to the phone.


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