911; What’s Your Emergency?

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Stephanie Mullen, Staff Writer

If you were ever to have an emergency, serious enough that you would have to call 9-1-1, wouldn’t you expect and hope that they would answer? Well, reality for some people has been that the phone hasn’t been answered, and even when it was they were left on hold. On Hold. By the emergency hotline we have all been taught to call since we knew what a phone was. The question is, why? Why is this happening? And what can we do to stop it?

In some cases it is because there is a lack of operators and many people are being put on hold just because there isn’t anyone available to answer the phone. It doesn’t help when there is an overload of calls, too many for the operators to handle or route to other stations in the area. In a recent abnormal situation in Dallas, the police station was receiving “ghost calls” from T-mobile phones, so many that it was basically clogging up the system to where legitimate emergencies could not get through. Ghost calls, if you didn’t know, are when the receiver of the call picks up and there is no one on the other end of the call, and usually happens because of neglected auto-dialers from telemarketers, or people who look for networks to exploit and hack into them, wreaking havoc(Telzio.com).

In this specific case, a 6 month old baby boy in Dallas was at home with his babysitter while his mom was at work. According to the babysitter, the boy fell and would not wake up. She proceeded to call 911 but was put on hold, not one but three times, the final time for over half an hour. After waiting and calling to no avail, the young boy’s mother came home. She then took him to the closest hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Why is this relevant? Because it could happen to any one of us, anywhere in the country. People in our town have been put on hold and routed to different stations according to Marley Wilkinson,a GCHS student and daughter of a former Granite City police officer, “Oh yeah, I’ve been in the station waiting for my Dad before and have heard the operators telling people to hold and routing them to a different station”. But usually in those situations you don’t have time to “please hold” because there aren’t enough operators.

I’ve been in the station waiting for my Dad before and have heard the operators telling people to hold and routing them to a different station”

— Marley Wilkinson

How can you help? Apply for a 911 operator job. You can find one almost anywhere you go. If you are eligible to vote on local decision, consider voting to increase the budget. And for pete’s sake, Do Not, for ANY reason at all, call 911 if you don’t have a genuine emergency. Because someone out there does and you are keeping them from getting through to the operator. So be considerate and do your part.