Thursday, April 14, 2005


9-11 operators must have a hard job. How else can we explain the conduct of some of them when they respond to what they consider to be unreasonable calls? Some of their responses are outrageous, such as the one reported today in which the operator asked the distraught mother complaining of an out of control teenage daughter, "What do you want us to do, send someone over to shoot her?"

9-11 operators should be professionals. Sure, they are subjected to inappropriate calls, and have to deal with disturbed and rude callers. That goes with the job, and if the operators do not want the job, they should resign. However, we do have a suggestion to help.

This should be done on the federal level, and right away, to avoid the proliferation of plans such as the ones for calling in DWI's and other important calls (for example, "Call 828-8DWI," or "Call 828-STOP."). We need uniformity and simplicity. Our suggestion is to set aside the 9-1 series of numbers now, nationally. 9-11 will be life or death; 9-12 could be burglary in progress, etc.; 9-13 could be DWI in progress; and on through 9-19. A great deal of thought should be given to the priority of numbers, and to memory aids. Think of the children's song, "This Old Man." "This old man, he play two, he play knick-knack on my shoe, etc."

Imagine yourself driving down the freeway at 70 miles per hour, and you see in the lane ahead an old aluminum chair which has apparently fallen off someone's truck. Or you see a large dead dog. What do you do, call 9-11? It would be better if you called 9-1_. What if you are at a mall and see a man set a briefcase down and walk off rapidly? What if you are at a mall and see a child locked in a hot car? Do you know how to call the police, or the sheriff, or the State police, without looking into a telephone directory? Why not a non-emergency 9-1 number?

We submit that this is an urgent problem, and it should be handled by the federal government now. Transportation department, or Homeland Security?

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