Wednesday, March 18, 2009

9-1-1. What's Your.....Please Hold.

Just so we Sarasotans don't start thinking we have a corner on the "stupid" market, it's somewhat comforting to see stories from other places like this every once in a while.

These 911 stories are pretty funny, as long as you're not looking at them from the perspective of the caller. Rude dispatchers, sleeping dispatchers--yep, all pretty funny 'cause apparently nobody got killed as a result of the ensuing hijinks.

Here on the Suncoast, though, people die. And that is decidedly NOT funny.

It wasn't funny when Melissa Booth's 3-month old baby died because she told 911 she needed an ambulance on Highland Ave. instead of Highland St. She was roundly chastised for giving the dispatcher the wrong address by those who are quite sure they would always think clearly when a child of theirs would stop breathing.

It wasn't funny when everyone was scrambling to locate Denise Lee after she was kidnapped. Everyone except the 911 dispatchers whose shifts were over and neglected to pass along information received from a caller who just described a green Camaro with a screaming blonde woman in the back seat that she was following in North Port. That caller, as it turned out, was the last person to see Denise Lee alive.

In both cases--in all cases--the critics of the 911 system were blasted, just as I'm sure the critics of these other 911 stories were.

In reading the "so, what happened" epilogues at the end of the stories, only two dispatchers were recommended for termination, while the others received suspensions of varying lengths or, in the case of the dispatcher who offered to shoot the woman's daughter, two letters of reprimand.

Compare that with the Denise Lee debacle where, of the three dispatchers and one supervisor involved, one was suspended for 36 hours and one for 60 hours.

And that, my friends, is what we call "justice" here in paradise.

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