My colleague got a call from a woman frantic to connect with a 911 center in Illinois. My colleague used her cellphone to pull up 911Buddy, the app that allows you to call any 911 center in the United States, and typed in the city and state into the app. She took a screen shot of the number, before the app automatically dialed the emergency center in Illinois and read the number off to the caller. Naturally the caller took the number and hung up abruptly, as good manners are rarely deployed on emergency lines. My colleague went back to waiting for the next emergency call, most likely one that required us to send help to an address in Key West, our jurisdiction.
Not an hour later, another caller wanted a 911 center in Illinois. What are the chances of two 911 calls in the same state across the country from Florida? Well whatever they are, Chelsea got them both that night. The second caller was much less driven to believe the dispatcher. She for some reason, called for help and when told we could not connect her directly on the 911 line, started to accuse our dispatcher of obstructionism. Even offering her the correct number to call to help her family near Chicago did nothing to make her happy. She yelled loud enough I could hear her through Chelsea’s headset across the room. Chelsea, the consummate pro, calmly repeated the number the caller needed but the woman cursed her and hung up.
We dispatchers do our best. It’s what we are trained to do. It’s why we do this job… To help. Sometimes our best efforts feel as though they are in vain and callers make it hard to remember the times we have managed to do some good, perhaps even save a life. We just have to live with, and work with, the technology we have and transferring 911 calls isn’t yet one of them. Use my app and you can place the emergency call where you need to, when you need to, across the entire country.