So this past Monday, MLK day, I was in a car accident. Taking a turn down my own street, going about 5mph. It was snowing-an expected snow fall, mind you-and my street was a danger zone. The temperature was below freezing, so that means there was black ice on the road, with snow piling on top of it. As my car failed to turn and I continued to slide, my only thought was, “Thank God I’m not driving fast. Hopefully we won’t get hurt.” I hit the pole, knocked it down, and finally, my wheel turned and I was able to come to a stop. A little shaky, but everyone was okay. One of my neighbors rushed out of their home to help us, while I proceeded to call 911. This is where the fun begins.
I placed the call, and the line on the other end rang. And rang. And rang. For about twenty rings. Someone answered and screamed into the phone, “What town??!!!” As I attempted to provide the town name, the dispatcher hung up. Still shaky, I tried to call back again. The second dispatcher, a lot calmer than the first, stated, “What town?” I provided the town name, and he put me on hold for a few moments. And then disconnected the call. Again. At this point, obviously a glutton for punishment, but growing increasingly pissed off, I called a third time, and after several (15) rings, I got through to the third dispatcher. I explained to her that this was my third call, and that I had been in an accident. She told me to hold, and I was finally patched through to my town’s police department.
Okay, this is what frightens me. Not once was I asked what my emergency was, nor if I were safe. I could have been at the scene of a crime, like a homicide or burglary, but throughout all three calls, the tone was apathetic, even annoyed. We pay taxes and trust that these civil servants are there to respond swiftly in an emergency, yet I was treated as if I were a mere annoyance. This behavior caused me to do some quick research, to find out if others have experienced the same treatment. I pulled a few stories, such as this one, or this one, or this one, in which another blogger addresses a similar issue. It was my understanding that if you dial 911, but disconnect, they will automatically call you back or send someone out to your area if they can’t reach you. This doesn’t seem to be the norm any longer.
Obviously, my emergency wasn’t life or death, but how many ARE?? Alright, alright, my experience isn’t nearly as bad as what was occurring (and probably still is) in the inner city when the song my post title is referencing came out, but still unacceptable, in my opinion. My first inclination was to make this post a little political, but I decided to diverge from that original plan…you may get that in another post. The most important part about this experience is that we were able to escape this minor accident unscathed. Although my car looks like someone took a huge bite out of it, that pole won’t be harming anyone else anytime soon.