Monday, August 29, 2011

A whole different 911 experience, in rural Idaho

I've only called 911 a few times in my life--to report drag racers on I-80 near Davis, California; about a drunk driver who rear-ended me in suburban Sacramento County; and about a woman screaming in distress from the home of a neighbor in Fair Oaks, California. The response in those first two instances was, respectively, "not much we can do about it" and "well, keep him there until an officer arrives," which turned out to take more than half an hour. In short, both dispatchers seemed at best uninterested in my call, at worst annoyed by it. The third situation was even more upsetting because no law enforcement officers showed up until several hours after my call, and then they came to my home instead of to the neighbors'. By then, the screaming had stopped, and the question they seemed most preoccupied with was whether or not she had yelled the word "help."

So, imagine my surprise when I called 911 in nonmetropolitan Camas County, Idaho a few weeks ago and actually had the dispatcher call me back once our call was dropped. I had called to report a cow in the road. No signs on Hwy 20, the major east-west thoroughfare across the county, had indicated to expect livestock in the road, so I assumed this was not open grazing territory. The dispatcher let me know that she could not hear me, and eventually our call was dropped. I was surprised when the Camas County Sheriff's office--the source of the dispatcher--called back a few minutes later to inquire as to the nature of my call. That time, the dispatcher was able to hear me, and she thanked me for the report and the details of the cross street where I had seen the cow. There was no hint of annoyance at the out-of-state accent, the city slicker concerned about a cow in the road. But then, Camas County has a population of only 1,040, and the dispatcher probably does not see much action. She may have welcomed the distraction.

1 comment:

JWHS said...

So I guess the Andy Griffith show still contains valuable sociological insight?