Get Your Gun Before Dialing 911

Last night I had a reason to call our local 911. It was a most revealing call.

Some (*)&(*&^ idiot decided it would be great fun to put a full size cutout silhouette of a man in the middle of a dark highway where people normally travel 50-60 miles per hour. They did this sometime around 10:00 P.M. as near as I can tell since that is when I went by it. This cutout was propped on on a wooden frame and was located directly in the middle of the westbound lane. It was painted black as near as I could tell and it was located where the nearest street light was at least a mile away. Obviously who ever put it there wanted to cause an accident either by someone coming up on it and hitting it and possibly losing control and/or sending it through the windshield or by trying to swerve around it and thereby maybe lose control.

Well, I tried calling our 911 service on the cell phone. Here is where my education began.

The 911 operator that answered, after only maybe 30 or 40 secs of waiting once the send command was issued, was more interested in the number of the cell phone I was using, who I was, where I was calling from and other “really vital” information BEFORE they listened to what the nature of the emergency was. What made it even more revealing is that they ALREADY had the cell phone number since they read it back to me BEFORE I gave it but still they wanted to know what phone I was calling from!

Finally, once I had the information passed on, they transferred the call to the PA State Police. Again there was maybe a 45-60 second time of “dead air” before the ringing began at the PSP. This must be a common experience since the 911 operator told me before the transfer that it may take a while and please stay on the line for the PSP.

FINALLY, the PSP phone rang and only 30 seconds or so later it was answered. AGAIN the woman handling the phone wanted to know my name, what the phone number I was calling from was, what my home phone number was, where I was, and other equally “vital” information. When I tried to interrupt to tell her of the cutout in the road, that wasn’t of interest to her since “She had to fill out the information properly!”

Please note that the 911 operator had already gone through this and had it on record! Finally, I got to tell the PSP where the cutout was and she could not seem to understand where my directions referred to. I only had to repeat it two or three times to let her know that it was in the westbound lane or PA Rt. 285, between Conneaut Lake and Hartstown Rd., just a few hundred yards past the railroad tracks at the Pa Game lands. By this time the three cars traveling east (I was the second) had all been flashing their headlights at a couple of westbound cars to warn them that something was coming up in front of them. By the time the PSP seemed to finally get all the forms filled out with the proper documentation and figured out the location, I was maybe three or four miles past the cutout! The PSP operator was getting pissed at me since I thought it was more important to get some warning out there than filling out her forms (especially since they already had what they need from the Automatic Number Identification).

Since they keep telling us they have to raise the phone bill “taxes” for this 911 enhanced service which can locate where you are if you can’t talk, maybe I would have been better off just sending the 911 call and throwing the phone out the window!

When I got home I told my wife of the experience and told her that if she ever heard anyone breaking in the house, reach for the gun and not the phone! (It has been said before, but now with this experience to back it up, there is an emphasis on how little 911 gives you “Personal” protection.)