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Listen to these 911 calls, and check out my solution to Sen. Patton's concerns

By Todd Franko (Contact)


Published July 18, 2009

This blog is a continuation of my 7/19 Sunday column about a state senator's effort to ban the broadcast of 9-1-1 emergency calls.

There are examples when 9-1-1 calls are exploited by media, largely TV stations. The calls are aired over and over highlighting a victim or individual in their most anguished moments. There's is nothing to be gained by this.

But in following Sen. Tom Patton's push, you also would never hear when the 9-1-1 system fails you. And there are just as outlandish examples of such: 

Here's a horrific 9-1-1 dispatch debacle from Florida. A woman was eventually killed.

Here's an extended MSNBC report of the same incident above.

Georgia doctors react here to continued problems from a 9-1-1 center which finally led to a woman's death.

Here's a CBS News report that targets systemic woes with 9-1-1, but also highlights a jerk dispatcher in Connecticut.

Here's a call where a woman calls about two 12-year-old girls in a fistfight. The dispatcher asks the lady "Would you like us to come over and shoot them?"

Here's a 9-1-1 dispatcher who said he didn't care what happened to a caller.

There are tons more examples. Just google it.

But to be sure, there are plenty of heroic events that happen within 9-1-1 call centers. Here's one:

An Omaha dispatcher used ingenuity and technology to end this assualt, which also involved a murder.

So there are great things that go on in 9-1-1 call centers.

But there are also astounding mistakes, and they have as much to do with some heartless or stressed workers as they do with any technology challenges.

But without the ability for the public to know and hear for themselves when the system fails, the public will never have an interest in ensuring officials do the right thing.

Solution: When a media outlet engages in gratuitous use of a 9-1-1 call that serves no public gain, government leaders can launch a public outcry against the act. If the public agrees, they can add to the pressure, which will grow to lost viewers and lost advertisers for the media outlet.

One by one, you will shape what's acceptable for airing without ever having to pass a law that costs us too much in government oversight.


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