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Topic : 12/12 911 Nightmares!

Number of Replies: 130
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Created on : Friday, December 05, 2008, 12:52:11 pm
Author : DrPhilBoard1
Imagine that you’ve fallen, had a terrible accident or been abducted, and your only lifeline is 911. What happens if you call and can’t get the help you need or emergency personnel are sent to the wrong address? America's 911 system handles nearly 240 million calls per year, and the growing number of dispatch disasters can be a matter of life or death. Edward and Ada know about this pain firsthand. They lost their loved one, Olidia, to a murder-suicide in the parking lot of a police station after what they say was a botched 911 call. Edward says his mom’s death could have been prevented, and Ada believes the operator was rude to her sister in the final moments before her murder. Joining Dr. Phil to discuss the tragedy are Charlie Cullen from the National Emergency Number Association and Caroline Burau, a 911 dispatcher and author of Life in the Hot Seat. Find out the most important piece of information you need to know when calling for help. Then, Nathan’s wife, Denise Amber Lee, was abducted, and a series of 911 calls -- even one placed by Denise herself -- failed to save the young mom’s life. Jane, a witness to Denise’s abduction, was on the line with 911 for more than nine minutes … but police were never dispatched. Now Nathan says he's angry with the system and has trouble explaining Denise’s death to their two young sons. What can the grieving father do to move past the pain? And, learn what constitutes a genuine emergency, and what to teach your kids about dialing those three important numbers. Join the discussion.

Find out what happened on the show.

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December 11, 2008, 6:18 am CST

We Need to Demand Better

These stories are nothing less that horrific including the ones posted on this message board.  

I don't blame the dispatchers because many of them are probably undertrained, understaffed, and work shifts that are too long (such as 12 hours) for this type of demanding job.   I don't know what they are paid but I am guessing that is not great either.  

BUT I KNOW THIS: IF OUR GOVERNMENT AS 700 BILLION DOLLARS TO GIVE TO THE CORPORATE THIEVES ON WALL STREET AND YET EVEN MORE MONEY FOR THE CORPORATE THIEVES IN MICHIGAN.   THEN THEY HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO HAVE A PROPER 911 SYSTEM.   THIS GOVERNMENT IS STEALING FROM US AND STEALING OUR VERY SAFETY TO GIVE TO THE ULTRA RICH SO THEY CAN THROW PARTIES AND BUY CORPORATE JETS.  

We need to demand better from our government and we need to vote the party out of office.   We need to boycott bailed out corporations in protest.   We need to talk about this in public and let our voices me heard!
 
December 11, 2008, 2:34 pm CST

get CPR and first aid classes please

My son was 16 and working in a restaurant, same one I work in but I wasn't there that day.  It was a slow December day so everyone was cleaning while there was no customers in the restaurant and the dishwasher had taken the safety bar off the bottom of the fryer to clean.  He never got it back on when my son started cleaning the fryer, tipping it over on himself.  He had stood up when he realized the front legs of the fryer was coming down over the edge of the ledge it was on and this saved his life.  He ended up with grease burns over his arms and chest, the arms getting the worse of it.  I give credit to the boss and the employees there who stripped his clothes off him and put wet rags on his arms while one waitress called 911.  She first didn't get an answer, then when she did she told them he was burned by the fryer grease, which they sent out the call for the fire department for a grease fire.  By the time the ambulance got there, the employees had given him enough 1st aid that it kept it from becoming 3rd degree burns.  He still had to spend a week or so in a burn unit in Greeley, but it would have been so much worse had it been up to the 911 call to save him.  While 911 call system is so important, there can be errors that are costly to the people they are trying to help so I believe that we all need to know first aid and CPR to do our part before the rescue squad gets there.  I know that there is situations where that wouldn't help, but I bet there is more situations where it will.

 
December 11, 2008, 3:17 pm CST

thank you, susannah

Quote From: hotmommastout

I went to church with Nathan growing up and to High School with Nathan and Denise, although I didn't know her...She was a freshman my senior year, and Nathan was a grade behind me. Nathan even played a trumpet solo at my wedding. I hadn't heard from Nathan in several years when this happened, but I instantly felt sick. I kept seeing his face and his smile when he was younger. He is such a kind and genuine person, and I throught the whole thing I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.

 

 When she was missing, I just kept thinking about how I would feel if I were in her shoes and it terrified me. I have three little boys, and I am a stay at home mom, my youngest son is a month older than hers, and I just kept thinking about how I would feel if someone took me and left my babies alone and unsupervised. My mother told me Denise was still breastfeeding when he took her, and everytime I nursed my son I wept...it was all i could think about. From what I've heard of Denise, even though she was scared she was probably thinking and worrying more about the other people in her life than she was about herself.

 

What gets me know when I think about the whole ordeal, is how unneccessary it all was. Denise did everything in her power to save herself, Nathan did the right thing, Denises father did everything he could, numerous people called in tips, and it was all in vain. My main hope is that this whole situation will be a catalyst for change in the 911 system. God Bless the 911 operators and all that they do, and God Bless the Lee and Goff families, especially Adam & Noah.

                                                                                  Susannah

Your thoughts and prayers are felt and appreciated. Noah and Adam are doing really well. Our families (the Lees and Goffs) have really come together and we truly do all we can to help and support Nathan. He's still playing the trumpet and he's still a great guy. As his mom, I'm amazed at his strength and character. I'm proud too.

 

Denise was such a good person. She didn't have a malicious bone in her body. We talk about her constantly to Noah and Adam. They know she's an angel and when Noah builds something spectacular with blocks he'll say "Mommy see it". And we say "yes, she sees it". Adam sadly won't remember her. And Adam is such a great baby. He took to the bottle right away and just smiles all the time (unless he's hungry or tired or poopy).

 

All in all, our lives are very broken and sad. But the boys........ they keep our spirits up and ours hearts and minds focussed on the future.

 

Anyhow, I just wanted to share that. Your post touched me very much.

 

Aside to Dr Phil, thank you so much for all you've done for Nathan. As his mom, I believe he came back emotionally healthier after meeting you. Your concern for him and the boys means a lot. You didn't just treat him like a story,  you treated him as a person. God bless you for that. And thank you for bringing light to this issue.

 

Peggy Lee

 
December 12, 2008, 3:10 am CST

my own nightmares

I watched the show and got  irritated all over again. Those stories were just terrible. Fortunately I never had a life or death situation, but if I followed orders by one I could have. Driving home from my work on lunch break one night (at like 3 a.m) to check on my pets, I approached my house to see it well lit and front door open. I was a young single female (20 and new to the neighorhood) that just changed my locks after my landlord had been harassing me (he wanted a relationship though he had a family and would not take no for an answer) and entering at will. He was one of the biggest drug lords in the community and even paid someone to attack my neighbor in front of her kids when she cut him off (from sex). I called 911 to report the break-in as no one else had a key, but to my dismay, the operator asked f I was in the home. I told her no that I was in my car up the street and gave her my home address. She said they could do nothing unless I was physically in the house. What?! Needless to say, I turned around and went back to work and did not go back into the house for days. (I had to sleep in my car at WAL-Mart).

A second encounter was when I was at home asleep (I had since moved but in the same neighborhood). The police came to my home in the middle of the night asking if I was ok. Of course I was, I was taken to the hospital only to find out that someone (a guy ) had called 911, said he was me (a female), gave my address and name and that he (I) was going to kill myself. I only found this out the next day when my friend, a 911 operator wasat work that night and heard about the call. He told the person that was taking the call that he knew me and that I was a female. The person that took the call said no, this person is a male. Rather than confirm, I ended up spending the night in the er and facing medical bills. However, there are good ones out there (I actually just got a call from one while typing) that will do anything to make sure people are taken care of. He was having trouble with an international follow-up and needed my expertise with no hesitation. Now everything is fine.

Hooray for the good people! And good luck with training for those that are good people but just not adequately trained. I do not blame them. But better training would make a big difference. They took the job to help people and training should not be held against them. Thank you all!

 
December 12, 2008, 5:00 am CST

The heroes behind the scenes...

I have been a 911 call taker/dispatcher for over 7 years and it's definitely the hardest job you'll ever love. The dispatchers in my center work 10-12 hour shifts, 4-5 days/week (sometimes more.) Due to under staffing we all work mandatory overtime on a regular basis, in fact, I worked almost 700 hours of overtime this year to make sure my community has the emergency services they need. Every one of my co-workers is a dedicated professional and I am proud to be a part of this organization--even when the only recognition we get as professionals are shows like "911 Nightmares" and negative comments from the public.

 

It's very frustrating to read all these "horror" stories because I can see the ignorance of the public--not meant negatively, people simply don't have the information they need to use the system correctly. When I am training a new dispatcher one of the first things they need to know is: don't trust what your caller is telling you, ask more questions because people will leave out crucial details that can mean the difference between life and death.

 

Millions of people in the US believe that calling 911 from a cell phone can be tracked using GPS to pinpoint their location so it's not important to know where they are when they call, this can be true in most cases; however, it's not always the case. Pre-paid cell phones are the worst--there is no way for 911 centers to track the owner of the phone and obtain essential information in a timely manner (I'm not saying it can't be located at all, but when there is an emergency it's not fast enough to save lives.)

 

I love my job and I could never see myself doing something else, but when I hear stories, such as the ones that are to be featured on the show today, and read these messages the public has posted it makes me angry! I think it's time people take a little bit of responsibility for themselves and stop blaming everyone else around them when something goes wrong. Know your location! Keep your wits about you and help that dispatcher help you!

 

For instance, the person here who said their mother died because the dispatcher didn't send the fire station that was down the block from their house--how it is the dispatcher's fault that your parents lived near a fire station that doesn't service their area? You have my sympathy, but I don't think the blame lies on the dispatcher.

 

And the person who was a victim of a home invasion--how is it the dispatcher's fault the officer went to the wrong house? Did you request a copy of the radio tape and know the dispatcher told the officer to go to the wrong house? Or is it possible the officer made a mistake when attempting to locate your residence and made a wrong turn?

 

We are the heroes behind the scenes and rarely get the acknowledgment we deserve--only coming into the public eye when they need someone to blame.

 

It's a very thankless job and we rarely receive praise for anything we do; however, make one mistake in your career and everyone hears about it. Out of the millions of 911 calls that are placed each year I am curious what the percentage of error actually is? Obviously the public doesn't hear about the countless lives that are saved everyday by 911 professionals.

 

Keep yourselves safe and don't hesitate to call 911 if you need us, we do the best we can and always have your best interests at heart--even though we're human and errors are made.

 
December 12, 2008, 8:46 am CST

thank you

Quote From: saritaswg

I have been a 911 call taker/dispatcher for over 7 years and it's definitely the hardest job you'll ever love. The dispatchers in my center work 10-12 hour shifts, 4-5 days/week (sometimes more.) Due to under staffing we all work mandatory overtime on a regular basis, in fact, I worked almost 700 hours of overtime this year to make sure my community has the emergency services they need. Every one of my co-workers is a dedicated professional and I am proud to be a part of this organization--even when the only recognition we get as professionals are shows like "911 Nightmares" and negative comments from the public.

 

It's very frustrating to read all these "horror" stories because I can see the ignorance of the public--not meant negatively, people simply don't have the information they need to use the system correctly. When I am training a new dispatcher one of the first things they need to know is: don't trust what your caller is telling you, ask more questions because people will leave out crucial details that can mean the difference between life and death.

 

Millions of people in the US believe that calling 911 from a cell phone can be tracked using GPS to pinpoint their location so it's not important to know where they are when they call, this can be true in most cases; however, it's not always the case. Pre-paid cell phones are the worst--there is no way for 911 centers to track the owner of the phone and obtain essential information in a timely manner (I'm not saying it can't be located at all, but when there is an emergency it's not fast enough to save lives.)

 

I love my job and I could never see myself doing something else, but when I hear stories, such as the ones that are to be featured on the show today, and read these messages the public has posted it makes me angry! I think it's time people take a little bit of responsibility for themselves and stop blaming everyone else around them when something goes wrong. Know your location! Keep your wits about you and help that dispatcher help you!

 

For instance, the person here who said their mother died because the dispatcher didn't send the fire station that was down the block from their house--how it is the dispatcher's fault that your parents lived near a fire station that doesn't service their area? You have my sympathy, but I don't think the blame lies on the dispatcher.

 

And the person who was a victim of a home invasion--how is it the dispatcher's fault the officer went to the wrong house? Did you request a copy of the radio tape and know the dispatcher told the officer to go to the wrong house? Or is it possible the officer made a mistake when attempting to locate your residence and made a wrong turn?

 

We are the heroes behind the scenes and rarely get the acknowledgment we deserve--only coming into the public eye when they need someone to blame.

 

It's a very thankless job and we rarely receive praise for anything we do; however, make one mistake in your career and everyone hears about it. Out of the millions of 911 calls that are placed each year I am curious what the percentage of error actually is? Obviously the public doesn't hear about the countless lives that are saved everyday by 911 professionals.

 

Keep yourselves safe and don't hesitate to call 911 if you need us, we do the best we can and always have your best interests at heart--even though we're human and errors are made.

Thank you for doing the job you do. I will agree that for the most part 911 call takers and dispatchers do a wonderful job. Sadly, not all 911 call takers and dispatchers have your dedication. We only wish they did.

 

It is our opinion that these stories need to be told. Why? Because each 911 center is different. Your 911 call center may be the best out there. Ours sadly, isn't very good. Losing a life is no light matter. There were many things that went wrong that night in our local 911 center. There were major procedural breakdowns that in our opinion need to come to light. Why? So that they can be scrutinized, studied and fixed. Our call taker doesn't like to enter things into the CAD. She writes things down on pieces of paper and then later enters it into the CAD. The dispatcher she gave the piece of paper to testified in an investigation that she didn't even read it. The piece of paper has since been lost.

 

A Teletype machine went for 3 and half hours unmonitored while BOLOs were issued about Denise. They sent the operator home early so as to save paying her over time. The dispatchers were to monitor it every 5-10 minutes. One dispatcher testified she did but that's rather hard to believe considering she missed them somehow and failed to respond to at least 3 if not all 4. Our deputies in the field were looking everywhere for Denise but didn't know to look for a green Camaro until it was too late because the dispatchers didn't give them the information off the BOLOs. They messed up even without Ms Kowalski's call. It took a supervisor an hour to patch a radio to the neighboring county. Do you want more? I can't go on. The murderer murdered Denise. Not the 911 center. But the mistakes in the 911 center directly led to her death. It's like reliving it all over again.

 

This isn't an indictment on your profession. This is a concerned family who wants to help improve things for your profession so that everyone is on the same page and holds the same standards you do.

 

It's sad you feel offended. We don't mean to offend good dispatchers and call takers.  

 

Consider your community blessed to have people like yourself protecting them.

 
December 12, 2008, 12:27 pm CST

911 doesn't work!

The whole 911 CONCEPT was well meaning but it does NOT work.

It is FAR to easily overloaded in regional emergencies due to being swamped by cell calls and not having

enough phone lines to handle the traffic.

Calling a LOCAL fire or police department is by far the BEST choice but in many areas these dispatchers that KNEW your name and KNEW where you live and your circumstances are being ELIMINATED nation wide!

I NEVER advise anyone I CARE about to call 911!

I tell them to get the number of your LOCAL dispatcher or fir station .

Get the number of your local ambulance service and keep IT handy!

My own NEIGHBOR died as a DIRECT result of 911 sending help to the WRONG address!!!!!

This would NEVER have happened if the LOCAL dispatcher was called because she knew EVERYBODY in town and KNEW where they lived!!!

911 is an all your eggs in one basket approach that gets people killed!!

And most 911 centers are using computer based equipment that can EASILY crash taking out the ENTIRE 911 center and they don't have anywhere NEAR enough phone circuits to handle a REAL emergency!!!

 

 
December 12, 2008, 12:27 pm CST

Walk a mile..........

I am a 911 Dispatcher and I think that we are getting a raw deal. There are mistakes made, I will agree. But, we are human. I challenge anyone to walk a mile in our shoes. Try to sort out what is wrong and where someone is when they are frantic and screaming. The general public, when in an emergency situation is not always rational.
 
December 12, 2008, 12:36 pm CST

Unequal access

Cell Phones are not perfect.  Neither is 911.  In a socially advanced country, there are still areas that are not served by cell phones.  In the rural areas of the United States, cell phone towers are scarce.  Farming is considered the one of the most dangerous occupation in the country.  We tell farmers to carry their cell phones in cases of emergency, yet they cannot get service.  By law, we are all required to pay a 911 tax on our cell phones.  This is very unfair.  To top it off, the cell phone providers are considering taking down towers in rural areas due to decreased revenue.  This is a topic near and dear to my heart as my father was in a farming accident and if he hadn't been attended by 2 of my brothers would have died.  His foot was caught in an auger.  This caused an artery to be cut in half and the bones to splinter.  If that 911 call had been dropped and he hadn't been attended by someone, he would be dead.  This is all about money.  Cell phone companies have been offered free property to put up towers and refuse.  We have to ability to make cell phone service available to all.  How many have to die before we do?

 
December 12, 2008, 12:46 pm CST

Its Not the Police Departments fault!

it is not the fault of the polise station for not having adiquite traning or technology. to do all of that stuff the police stations need money. they get it from the tax payers. if they nedd more money for a new dispach system then they need to ask for it and put it up to a vote in the community. a lot of the times the reguests are denied. so it is the voters fault for not having a adiquite police dispach system. ITS YOUR OWN!
 
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