Robert Barron column: Respect needed for 911 program

The dispatcher said she would send a police unit to my home

A number of years ago, I woke up early one morning to discover that the power had gone out during the night.

All of the clocks in my home were run on electricity, so I had no idea what time of the day it was. As it was a work day, I needed to know what time it was so I could plan my morning activities accordingly.

Still half asleep, I picked up my phone (in an era before cell phones) with the intention of calling 411 to ask the operator for the time.

But in my groggy state of mind, I accidentally dialed 911 and was suddenly talking to a police dispatcher who was asking me what was the nature of my emergency.

I was instantly wide awake as I realized my error and apologized profusely to the dispatcher after I explained what had happened.

I thought that would be sufficient to correct my mistake, satisfy the dispatcher and begin my day, but the dispatcher wouldn’t just let it go at that.

She asked if I was alone and if anyone else lived in the house.

I said there was nobody else there and I was the sole tenant of the house, explaining again that it was all a mistake and apologized for the second time in a matter of minutes in an attempt to get her off the phone and put this foolish incident behind me.

But it was not to be.

The dispatcher said she would send a police unit to my home anyway, implying the authorities wanted to make sure there were no nefarious activities that I was trying to hide. Sure enough, about five minutes later, a police cruiser pulled up.

The two officers politely asked if anyone else was in the house as they looked past me into the front room looking for anything suspicious or out of place.

I figured the only way I was going to end this ongoing nightmare was to invite the officers in so they could look around the house for themselves. They took me up on the offer and made a quick inspection before finally deciding, however hesitantly, that I was telling the truth.

I apologized again as they left, making the first hour of that day the most apologetic of my life.

I’ve thought about that incident a lot since and, although it was annoying and even a little frightening at the time, I have to commend that dispatcher and the police officers for their work that morning.

Despite my apologies and explanations, they did their jobs and made sure that there was nothing going on in my house.

Inspector Chris Bear, head of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment, reported recently that false 911 calls are becoming a big challenge for police in the Cowichan Valley, mainly due to cell phones.

“Many are pocket dials (on cell phones) and nothing is heard on call backs,” he said.

“Many answer the phone and find out it’s the police and, for some reason, try to hang up or turn their phone off. Ideally, if people do accidentally call 911, they need to stay on the phone and talk with police dispatchers who then confirm if there is an actual emergency or not.”

Police resources are increasingly being stretched, so people should be careful with their phones and acknowledge when mistakes are made if 911 is accidentally called.

It saves everyone a lot of time and trouble in the end.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Multi-generational pain of residential schools lingers on Vancouver Island

Cycles of substance abuse and tragedy linked to colonial policies

Historian recalls Nanaimo’s drunken disorder back in 1890

Imagine the seamen’s surprise when they found themselves inside a brewery, writes columnist

Victoria church displays memorial tapestry for those lost to opioid crisis

Christ Church Cathedral hosts talks on opioid crisis on June 26 and July 3

Island beekeeper wants more responsible pesticide use

Two pesticide events in two months has beekeeper asking Islanders to take care

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Researchers say ‘text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millenials’ skulls

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

Man arrested for armed robbery and jewelry theft in Nanaimo

Suspect charged for robbery of Best Buy Liquor Store, theft of rings at Woodgrove Centre

Nanaimo teachers’ union president worries new deal could see job losses

Teachers’ federation and Ministry of Education negotiating with contract expiring at month’s end

Crews fight wildfire along Sea-to-Sky Highway

A cause has not been determined, although a downed power line is suspected

Complex with more than 200 apartments pitched for Nanaimo’s south end

Construction planned for next spring on Junction Avenue in Chase River

PHOTOS: Event marks one year since soccer team rescued from Thai cave

Nine players and coach took part in marathon and bike event to help improve conditions at cave

Rock climber dies after fall at Stawamus Chief in Squamish

The man had fallen about 30 metres while climbing in the Grand Wall area

Five B.C. students taken to hospital after playing with vaping device

School district said students were taken to hospital ‘out of an abundance of caution’

Most Read