I'd penned this post some months ago ~ then totally forgot about it! But, I overheard something just this morning about a woman who'd died, because the police never responded to the correct address following her son's 911 call. Scary stuff, eh?! Here's my own tale:
Have you ever had occasion to dial 911? Thankfully, I’ve not. But, try telling that to a certain Police Department in Florida.
I think… no I’m sure, it was the day after Christmas 2000. Returning home from a few days spent down south with mom, I noticed an official-looking, blue piece of paper affixed to my front door. Its contents informed me that the Police had been there in response to two 911 calls -- originating from inside my residence in the early hours. Say whaaat?!
Leaving my bags where they lay, I ran to the landline, dialed the PD’s non-emergency line and was patched through to the 911 Supervisor.
Process of elimination: No, at or about 2:00AM, I was sound asleep some 100 miles to the south. No, I live alone. No, no-one has a second key. No, all locks were changed when I purchased the townhouse. No, this phone’s the old-fashioned kind, not wireless. Yes, I own a dog … she was with me the entire time.
My turn: “Do you mind telling me, what exactly did your operator hear?
Nothing, nothing was said.
Both times? (To myself, This is crazy!!!)
I have to admit, they were very polite, thanked me for my time and asked if I would be available at this number if they had any further questions. One hour passed, then two. Unable to contain my curiosity, I called back. Turns out, they’d determined there was a snafu in the county’s switching system … something like that. I became lost in their techno-talk.
Later, I was left with two burning questions, neither one a pleasant scenario:
When there was no response to their knocks, why didn't the Police force entry? Remember, the Operator said she only heard breathing. What if I (or someone) was being held against my will, or laying on the floor having suffered a stroke?
Then, what circumstances surrounded the real caller? I know, that’s confidential, but I hate to think someone desperately needed the police and had no response.
(Have you figured out yet, I'm a true-crime junkie?)
Life’s sure curious. A few days later I was relating “my mystery” to a friend who reminded me of a talk given by a Public-Information Officer a few years before:
(He said), given the enormous growth of the County, it might be prudent to call 911 during non-peak hours ... (to) immediately say, "This is not an emergency." .... then ask, "What address is showing on your screen?”.
Well, I never mustered the courage to make that call …. I don’t want to get bawled out by some overworked operator or worse, issued a citation! Some days, you've just got to trust the System.