Knowing nothing of your town but having done fifteen years on 9-1-1 I will play devil's (call takers) advocate based on personal experience.
Most public safety answering points use computer aided dispatch systems. Without a proper address in the system a call can not be generated (technology making our lives easier). Most systems will accept exact addresses, hundred blocks, or intersections.Quote:
Dispatcher- what's the address?
me- I don't know but he's lying on the sidewalk a block from 7-11
Depending on the agency budget they can have a common place name file added (notihng is free) which would allow the calltaker to enter "S-11" (what our CAD used) or their equivalent and the computer would then list every address in the database associated to that common place name. The call taker then has to sort through the list and pick the correct one.Quote:
Dispatcher- which 7-11?
me- the one on Winchester Ave.
The one time they don't ask a clothing description is the one time that the officer/ambulance will be coming from the other side of the 7-11 and someone else will fall down one block that side of the 7-11 thirty seconds before they get there.Quote:
Dispatcher-what's he wearing?
me- (I actually started to laugh) I don't know what he's wearing but he's the ONLY ONE LAYING ON THE SIDEWALK ONE BLOCK FROM THE WINCHESTER AVE. 7-11.
As I used to tell my rookies, a mistake like that can make you famous.
It does happen.Quote:
geez...like there are 5 men lying on the sidewalk but I'm calling about this specific one.
Something else to keep in mind is that with budgets being what they are, a lot of jurisdictions are pooling high dollar resources when they can. The person answering your 9-1-1 call may actually be one or two counties away and taking calls for five counties and a dozen municipalities. They just enter a valid location and call type in the system and the computers do the rest. They may have never set foot in your town. In my county we had five Maple Ave. Two of them with the same hundred blocks. If the caller was referring to a high rise building that was in city of Takoma Park (hold on while I transfer you....) if it was a single family home it was in the city of Rockville. The other problem with common place names is they are common. Maryland route 355 (Wisconsin Ave, Rockville Pike, Hungerford Dr, N. Frederick Ave, Frederick Rd, Urbana Pike, S. Market St. N. Market St) runs from the D.C. line through the city of Frederick Md. The road itself starts in Georgetown right down at the Potomac River and runs North for about thirty miles. It is the main drag through Montgomery County.
Care to hazard a guess as to how many McDonalds, Exxon's, Wendy's, 7-11's and Shell stations are "the one on 355"?
In our county we have a central 911 operations center. I would not expect an operator to know anything about my town (one of several in the county), BUT I figure after you had told her several times, she would have gotten the message. Also, sometimes they have already dispatched PD/FD and are just trying to get more information for their report. I have heard several 911 operators who were clueless and others who are worth much more than they are paid! Just like any other job, some are good at it and others need to do something else.
Thank you mcp1810! You said it much better than I could have. We were composing at the same time.
mcp1810...As I said, it's a small town (less than 18,000 people), narrow 2 lanes streets, no big intersections like the area you're describing. I know that whole area well as we used to live in Falls Church near bazillion lane Tysons Corner.
Winchester Ave. only goes south because it dead ends on King St., the corner where the 7-11 is located. I could walk in 45 seconds to the area I was describing. The dispatcher was in our town, at least that's what she said when she answered.
I'm not laughing at the dispatcher, I laughed at the crazy conversation.
Next time I call in I'm going to say I sighted a crawler a block down from 7-11 on Winchester Ave.:banana:
I've met a few 911 operators...not surprised by your experience.
" I don't know what he's wearing but he's the ONLY ONE LAYING ON THE SIDEWALK ONE BLOCK FROM THE WINCHESTER AVE. 7-11." , :smile: Now that there is funny. My wife called TX.DOT this morning to report tire debris on IH-10 near us. People were swerving and slamming on their brakes. The person who answered the phone took the report then asked my wife her name. Maybe this is policy. Do people call in false debris reports?
I have also had really redundant conversations with 911 dispatch. I have repeated info several times over and still they got the call wrong. I understand it is a stressful job and responses are often scripted. But gee whiz, listen to what I am telling you and quit reading the script for just a moment, please. Training should include scenarios that are not cookie-cutters. I thank all the dispatchers who are there for us all the time.
Sounds like some conversations I've had with tow truck dispatchers.
Part of their class room training was basic geography of the county. What where the major state highways (by name and number) and which districts they ran through. What were the major shopping centers and what district were they in. We also had map books at every console (and every rookie was issued one) plus we had a giant map of the entire county covering a wall of the radio room.
Some times the reason for getting a name is in case they need to contact the caller later. Some states accept liability for stuff like pothole damage to vehicles if the damage occurs after the pothole has been reported. In those states it is not unusual for people to call in bogus damage claims. If I file a claim and say that the debris took out both of my front tires ten minutes before your wife called it in an investigator might call her and ask if she saw me there.
Rookies now don't get on the operations floor until they have completed six weeks of classroom. That includes simulations. After they show competency on the phones (about six months) they go back for radio simulations. Total training cycle is twelve to eighteen months. When I left we were able to get about thirty percent of our rookies to make permanent status. Prior to our new applicant screening process we only retained three to five percent.
I just had a similar issue communicating with a dispatcher, calling in a drunk driver, and I was calling on the radio from my zone car.
Some of the things you hear on the radio, crazy, like:
Responding to a tractor fire:Quote:
"Respond to a fully involved structure fire at 123 XXX St."
"Dispatcher, Engine 1 responding. Which way do I turn onto XXX St."
"I'm not sure, but it will be the one with all the smoke and fire."
"Engine 1 reporting smoke showing, still en route."
"Engine 2 on scene, fire showing, NO SMOKE SHOWING, owner is attempting to extinguish fire."
"Engine 2 now reporting light smoke showing."
"Engine 1 responding."
(TWO MINUTES LATER!)
"Engine 1 to dispatch, can you give me directions to the scene from the station?"