In 12 years working as a 911 dispatcher I have learned not to be surprised by anything. Some callers tell me they have an “odd situation,” but I’ve pretty much heard it all and nothing surprises me. Except for one thing which I want to talk about today. Why do some people call family before they call 911 in an emergency? On it’s face such behavior makes no sense. If you are in crisis and need help the obvious thing is to make the call to the people best trained to send that help. But instead many callers prefer to talk to a loved one first.
I have thought about this a lot and I have come to a couple of conclusions which may surprise you. First, I think that it’s really hard to be rational when panic threatens to engulf you, even though you might think you wouldn’t panic in an emergency. Many people do and the chance to speak to family or a reassuring voice is so important to them. Imagine coming home and finding your spouse seizing on the floor, white foam at the mouth, eyes rolled up horribly and arms and legs flying about… The instinct is to call a voice you know and trust over calling a faceless operator like me. Unfortunately, this isn’t the fastest way to get help, as not many people know 911 doesn’t transfer between jurisdictions.
The other reason people tend to call loved ones is because dialling 911 is considered such a big deal. You’ll get lights and sirens and make a huge fuss and your neighbors will be watching and perhaps you don’t want to be the center of attention. So you call your loved hoping they will reassure you and tell you not to worry and the problem will fix itself. If your loved one lives in another town or even another state they won’t be able to help you dial your 911 center because each 911 center only serves it’s local community. Your loved one will need 911Buddy on their smartphone to keep you on the line and make a three way call to your 911 center.
911 Buddy is currently available in the iTunes Store for Apple phones. But with this app you can rest assured you can help family members anywhere in the country with the simple touch of a button.