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Topic : 12/12 911 Nightmares!

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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 12, 2008, 2:52 pm CST


Quote From: ramair

I think, if the "Big Three" in Michigan want help from the government, they ought to change their practices. Such as flying to Washington in corporate jets begging for money. Sheeesh! Why can't they just file Chapter 11 like other companies have done?
Why would Congress even consider giving them money.  When one Congressman asked them who would sell their jet and fly back high end commercial not one raised there hands.   These CEOs are a joke, polluters, and thieves.   I heard one of the senators say no one wants to them to fail.  You know what, for stealing/attempting to steal my tax payer dollars I hope all three of them fail.  I hope karma hits them hard. 

Giving money to these corrupt CEOs is like flushing money down the toilet.   They will celebrate with parties and corporate jets, all while they continue to lay off workers and give themselves bonuses for doing so.  If the government really wants to help the people they should use tax payer dollars to create government jobs for the people loosing their jobs.   What the government is currently doing will only dig the economy into a deeper whole.  

P.S. All though it is said and done if you go to freedom works they have a prewritten letter you can send to Congress about this.  

I completely agree with the ends of what happened today in the Senate, but I means (aka blaming the unions) were lame.   The party is completely out of touch with the average american.  
December 12, 2008, 2:58 pm CST

911 Emergencies

Quote From: bearman1

alot of things u can do to stop an attacker,mace for one,have some handy,carry it with you.this is a crazy world anymore,you cant rely on 911 to be there instantly and if you up to it,get ya a gun,i dont approve of guns but when it comes down to me or him,i guess i'll do what i have to,hope it never for our systems being outdated,our goverment spends millions of dollars on this space crap,still dont know what they are looking for,a martion maybe,but updaing our 911 system seems to me is a heck of a lot more important than somebody walking around on the moon for some reason i still cant figure out and thats just 1 instance.our government blows more money than i bet it would take to update the system.just my opinion,but its about time our government thought about us for awhile.
 Dr. Phil,  I watched your show today regarding the 911 calls.  You stated that in 3 states the 911 employees do not have any type of training.  The states were Alabama, Michigan and Vermont.  I live in Alabama in a very small town.  You wouldn't believe the mistakes that have been made to 911 calls here.  There have been many times when the calls have been dispatched to the wrong address.  It is a complete nightmare.  The guy on your show today was so right in saying we as taxpayers pay for this service and we expect them to get it right.  Lives are at stake here.  I believe that these people have no type of formal training.  It's really scary.  The technology definitely needs updating.  I'm sure that it does cost alot of money.  Look at our government and the money that is wasted on other programs.  I guess this is a state issue.  Who do we need to contact in our state to let our voice be heard?  You did give alot of good advice on what to do in an emergency situation.  Love your show!
December 12, 2008, 3:01 pm CST

Telemarketer is more accurate?

I have a tale about being an unwitting dispatcher. I worked as a telemarketer-- insert your booing and hissing here- but some of you might know, you do what have to in order to pay the bills. I sold long distance plans for a certain phone company and let me tell you, I hated every minute of it. You certainly lose your faith in humankind when you are constantly being verbally abused and threatened to be sued, or even bombed (I have had two separate threats to have my car and house blown up). I was around an hour into a shift when the auto dialer called this woman in Ohio. She sounded like she was having trouble breathing. I thought it was a joke, because trust me-- there are sick individuals who would do that. After a few minutes of forcing my way through the boring speech we are supposed to make, I went with my gut. This woman wasn't joking. I had many urgings from my supervisor to hang up the phone (who later, when the media got a hold of the story made it out that he was the hero), that it was a prank and time was money. I refused. I kept her talking, got main switch to find out what phone number I was calling, we used yellowpages to reverse find her address and the switch controller called 911. It earned a brief spot on the news, and from what I saw, the paramedics said that if I hadn't have acted the way I had, she would have died.

So sometimes, it's a good thing that telemarketers are as annoying as they are. Think of it as a check up. ;)

Eventually though, I had a complete emotional breakdown after talking to a very rude man who claimed he sold insurance. He told me I should kill myself if my life had succumbed to working as a telemarketer. I walked away from the phones and never went back. To this day, I hate talking on the phone.
December 12, 2008, 3:07 pm CST

911 nightmares

I have been a 911 dispatcher/calltaker for 9 yrs now.  The example of the 605 Wales wasn't a fair assessment---I'm sorry that that person died but depending on the area--how many ways are there to spell Wales--Wells---Whales---we always try to verify cross streets and check the screen to see if we are getting a location off a cell tower.  We have numerous areas with White Oak street and about 5 different DOGWOOD addresses in different parts of our county.


What would help if people ACTUALLY knew their address--which you'd be surprised at how many don't even KNOW that---we have to have a location in order to send help to you.  I have even looked through phone books to try to help people to be found--by a close by landmark building.   There's no one in 911 who can READ YOUR MIND.


And as far as asking who was chasing that female that was killed at the Plantation PD, that WAS relevant information--to get the name of the actor, to check our local files to see if he's been handled before--to get descriptors of his height and weight--hair color....things that are necessary for an officer to be able to KNOW who the ACTOR is.  Its easy to sit and "armchair" the call.   None of us knows how we will react in any given situation at any given time.   Bad judgements are made by EVERYONE.


I have not had any "formal" training on 911.  I do the best I can and try to get as much pertinent information as I can.  Yes, I get screamed at and yes, they want to know why we aren't there that very second they called---but we do our best.  


But the number of NON-EMERGENCY CALLS that come into our department are well over 25 % I think.

We get the 911 calls from people who want to know what day it is---they want the number to so and so because they are on their cell and it will cost them to call information, they want to discuss NON-EMERGENCY issues then get disgruntled when I tell them I can't take their call on our emergency line.


People give their children the "throw away" phones to "play" with and the child discovers if he dials 911 he gets a voice.  We cannot track these calls and most of the time they won't go get the parent.  So we have to input the call over and over and over again, plus it ties up the line for REAL EMERGENCIES.


We are all in this together... you people need to help us help you.  Do we need more training, of course, I'm all for education.  We also need better pay.  Most of the time 911 is operated by the county or city government and our pay is low on the totem pole.  911 has income from every phone out there on a monthly basis.   I think 911 agency needs to kick in more to the counties and cities for its operational expenses and they should have less administrative costs.   The 911 system in this county has had an

"OVERAGE" in the millions of dollars. 


Thanks Dr Phil for putting on this show, although I think MORE could have been said about what 911 operators REALLY deal with.   In fact, I think you should do a Christmas give away show with just us operators and let us give you an earful!~~


Merry Christmas from a Fellow TEXAN~~



December 12, 2008, 3:16 pm CST

12/12 911 Nightmares!

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.


      That's excellent advice.  I wish I could have followed it myself.  I once had a kitchen fire that got out of hand.  Rather than fight the fire anymore myself, I decided to call the fire department.  I forgot there was an  emergency phone number (911)  It happened to be the name of my favorite tv show.   I remembered my own name, but I gave the dispatcher the address of my  house in the wrong state.  (I was so upset, I forgot I had moved)  Then, I calmed down enough to remember where I lived. 


    She was so sweet about everything.  She called me later about the whole thing on her own phone in her off hours.

December 12, 2008, 3:17 pm CST

This is insanity

It is insanity not only on the side of the criminal it is now also insanity on the part of the rest of us.  Consider this:  If God Himself could look down and pick the best 911 dispatcher in the world and put him or her on this call, would it really have helped Olidia make it those last 10-12 feet to help???


If THE BEST handled this call....


It is utter insanity when, considering the breaking down of the 2nd Amendment of these United States....the right....THE RIGHT to bear arms and the breakdown of society in general, we expect others to do the miraculous in protecting us. IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY. 


As bad as it is getting out there, we cannot place the responsibility of protecting each and every one of us on 911 or the police departments or anyone else for that matter.  It is the responsibility of ....each and every one of us.


Had she been armed she could have shot him before he shot her.  In a God-given right to self-defense.


Treasure this as you treasure your life:


"The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights protecting the pre-existing individual right to "keep and bear arms" (i.e. to "possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation").[1] Codification of the right to keep and bear arms into the Bill of Rights was influenced by a fear that the federal government would disarm the people in order to impose rule through a standing army or select militia,[2] since history had shown taking away the people's arms and making it an offense for people to keep them was the way tyrants eliminated resistance to suppression of political opponents.[3] Self-defense is a central component of the right enumerated in the amendment.[4]

Before District of Columbia v. Heller (June 26, 2008), the Supreme Court had not directly addressed the amendment, or had only done so in limited or ambiguous terms,[5] and because the amendment contains a prefatory "....for more go to Wikipediadotcom

December 12, 2008, 3:28 pm CST

Edward and Ada being the monday morning quarterback....

I have about 100 questions I would like to ask. And first off anyone who sits there and examines the situation many days later and then makes their own conclusions, in my opinion thats just shallow. From the 911 call that was on tape, NO MATTER if police was dispatched 1 second after the 911 call was answered there was just not enough time, even if in a perfect world.

Also that lady knew who this person was, so that being said I'll be the monday morning quarterback after the fact and say "Why did the son do ANYTHING when that guy showed up at their own house? I mean he knew already who he was, cause his mom knew. So why not stand up for  your mom initally when he came to the door?" Unless he was too scared......

So the family can blame the 911 person, the police, or whoever he wants, when he sits there dissecting the problem after the fact and not in REAL TIME. Lets say the son is too scared to stand up for his own mother, cooking or sitting on the couch..... That was the sons first and ultimately biggest mistake, so maybe he should look at himself....

That mother was in a moving car, on a cell phone, screaming into the phone and giving the wrong address..... The family, and more specifically the son has ownership, like Dr Phil said, they knew the guy.. So WHY let him in the house?

No matter how fast, anyone who could of been there would be able to of helped. Its easy to blame someone else after the fact, I get that, maybe it makes the son feel better and pass the buck, after all he had the BEST opportunity to resolve this immediately by standing up for his own mother, he still lived in his mothers house, so Im sure he knew the details, weeeeeell before hand.....

Lastly, after the screaming mother gave the wrong address and would not stop yelling, when she pulled up to the police dept.......Why didnt she simply walk up to the door and open it? Instead of running???? Makes no sense to me...

Also we all must remember, 'She never said she was going to the Police Dept, she simply said "Where is the Police?" Huge difference, Im appalled the son would even say that, we all heard the same call? The evidence does not lie!

In my opinion, the son should of stood up for him mom at the start, when he came to the door, seems simple to me but yet he went back to cooking?? OOOOOOOOOk....

Then the mother was driving, call on a cell phone, gave the wrong address, and this all appears to happen in about 1 minute... Yet the family blames 911?

As Dr. Phil would say, lets get real here..... Lets not forget how many 'fake' or useless calls 911 gets on a real-time daily basis....

December 12, 2008, 3:29 pm CST

shock, sorrow, love and healing

Dr. Phil, I watched today's program and it was so sadly compelling. The wretched random violence and unintential stranding that happened the people you profiled, was almost too difficult for me to bear to hear. As a stranger to these families I initially felt helplessly intrusive to their grief and loss, but I came away with  a genuine belief for hope that your families gained some sense of understanding and gentle guidance to help them cope with their incredible and senseless loss. I believe the most immediate need that you could provide for your families was with your grief work. We must work as a community to yell, scream, jump up and down to learn, assess what our local 911 systems can provide and eliminate the weak links. Thank you for the earnest work you do.
December 12, 2008, 3:51 pm CST

First Responders to 911 Dispatches

I've been a volunteer firefighter/EMT for the past five years, in a rural area of northern CA.  One of the biggest problems we run into in our county is poor residence numbering.  If we can't see the house number, we spend valuable time trying to find the address.  In our area, services are often dispatched as mutual aid responses, so responders may not be coming from the local jurisdiction (especially during wildfire season, or during the daytime when volunteers are working their "regular" jobs). 


I encourage everyone to evaluate the visibility of their residence address in daylight, but especially after dark.  We DO want to help. Prominently displaying your address will assist EMS in getting on scene quickly. 

December 12, 2008, 3:57 pm CST

12/12 911 Nightmares!

While my sympathy goes out to the families, I am outraged at the portrayal of 911 dispatchers.  I find it fascinating that  only the telephone calls were played leaving me to question what the dispatcher was doing on the radio.  I have been a Dispatcher , Dispatch Supervisor, and also a 911 Director in my 18 years in Emergency Services.  It IS the dispatchers job to ask question and understand the situation.  We are not only concerned for the welfare of the callers but the officers responding to assist them. 
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