Friday, April 5, 2013

The Call

I engendered quite a little argy-bargy (dust-up) on Facebook the other day by pointing out that there is no need to call 911 when a meteorite or something else unidentified streaks across the night sky.

A friend pointed out that a meteorite landed in Russia over the winter, injuring a thousand people and doing lots of property damage and so the Russians were right in that case to call 9-1-1ski.

The key word there is landed.  Yes, if a meteorite lands near where you are, by all means, call 911.  My point in that little diatribe was to say that 911 is for use when you want police, fire or EMS to respond to your situation.  Just because your neighbor's banana tree drops little banana splits in your yard, that's not a criminal situation.  Medic units are not meant to be dispatched for when you have a splinter, and the fire department does not get cats out of trees.  Hunger does.

I know it's very natural to hear a boom or see a shooting star or have the power go out for unknown reasons or be told that a fire engine is speeding somewhere to aid someone in need, and want to call 911 to find out what's up.  But 911 is not an information source, and while the wonderful people who work there would love to help you, think of it this way:  if you and a few others all call the emergency number to find out if school is open because it snowed, someone on the other end of town might be calling because of a dwelling fire or heart attack or armed robbery, and the lines should not be tied up by people wondering who was president before Lincoln.**

Ms Niemi
And here's an example, admittedly extreme:  this upstanding citizen, Elizabeth Niemi, called 911 from her palatial estate in Hooksett, NH, so that an ambulance could come and help her order egg foo young.

She didn't care if any other Hooksettians needed emergency services at the time.  But she did know that if she got the medic crew in on the deal, with six, they'd get eggrolls.

Now she needs an Asian carryout that delivers to the Walled-Off Astoria.

**Yes, this was an actual 911 once, as was the call from a woman who asked if taking major appliances from gentlemen callers in exchange for her exquisite favors made her a prostitute.

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