John Oliver’s three cents


Image from

911: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

This came across my personal social media stream, and I have been asked about it by several friends. While its humorous and silly throughout, he hits on several legitimate points. Let’s discuss a few, shall we?

  1. People call 911 when they do not have an emergency.
    Yep, all day every day. Is it a lack of education? Is it a lack of respect for the resources they are tying up? If there was an improvement in public education of our strained 911 resources, would they stop calling for information or non-emergency purposes? Even when the knowledge is there, the phone call often starts out with, “I don’t really have an emergency, but…”
  2. Location technology is deficient industry-wide.
    There are efforts and improvements coming down the pipeline… slowly. In the short term, it is critical for callers to know their location. We want to help you, but location is key, and we (most of us) don’t have access like you might see in the movies or TV. Hopefully there will be a trickle-down of accurate technology nation-wide in the near future, but in the meantime – know your location! Teach your kids their home address, and encourage them to know where you are at all times.
  3. Under-staffing is an industry-wide problem.
    Long hiring process, long training process, long hours. High level of expectation, high stress, and an often thankless job. Operators are usually talking people in the worst moment of their day/week/month, and everything an operator does is recorded. No pressure there, right? There are low training completion rates and high employee turnover.
  4. Pocket dials (aka butt-dials) do tie up lines and steal operator/officer attention.
    I’ll slip in one more PSA learning moment – lock your phone keypad. If you accidentally dial, don’t just hang up – talk to the operator. If you give a baby/child your old disconnected cell phone to play with, consider that unless you take the battery out, it can still dial 911.

Please feel free to post any question in the comments below – I’ll do my best to answer them.

I’d like to leave you with a quote from James Dillman, an Indianapolis 911 dispatcher who contributed a thorough post about what to expect when you call 911:
“Do your part to keep the 911 lines available to those who really need it.”

How to Call 911


One thought on “John Oliver’s three cents

  1. kduboulet

    Whenever I see John Oliver, I know I am about to learn the real truth about something important. What a clever & enticing move towards enhancing your blog. Plus, I applaud you for memorizing all those codes. Your job borders on being an act of altruism!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s