9-1-1 Sham or Shame? Pt2

by Colin Berkshire

You pay about $20 a year for 911 service, per phone. You would think this money goes to 911 service. And, a little bit of it does.

[See part 1 here]

But a lot of 911 fees get eaten up in ways you would never expect. Some of it is actually profit for your phone provider. Some of it goes to buying statically located surveillance cameras, or license plate readers. Some if it goes to buying armored vehicles. And, a lot of it is vacuumed up and put into the general budget of state, county, and city governments.

According to former director of the King County Office of Emergency Management, Eric Haldeman: “911 funds makes an inviting target. Legislative actions rob these funds.”

Of course, he has no halo. He isn’t proposing spending the money so that your location is accurately transmitted to 911 dispatchers who rarely know where you are or even what city you are in. And, he isn’t proposing buying dispatch systems with 3-way conferencing so that when you are bounced from one dispatch center to another and then another and then another the original person can stay on the line with you. No, he proposes systems to crowdsource videos criminal activity and police vehicle cameras.

Even though 70% of calls to 911 dispatch centers now come from cell phones, these centers mostly don’t have a clue where the callers are located.

The irony is that you can see your location precisely located on your smart phone and the dispatch center can’t get this information. And, nobody is doing much to fix this. It is a tragic and deathly irony that buffoons like Eric Halderman feel that what we need for good 911 service are security cameras when the public would just like an ambulance to be dispatched in less than 10 minutes. (I have never met Eric. I call him a buffoon because he is either stupid or silly or lost on the forest when he cannot recognize how terribly broken his 911 organization really is.)

I’m pretty emotional about this 911 topic at the moment. My family was in a very serious automobile accident and my wife needed emergency care and an ambulance. The 911 dispatchers couldn’t locate us, even though I was reading them the correct street names off the green street signs posted at the intersection where we were hit. Ten minutes of arguing over jurisdiction and trying to find us on a map ensued before any emergency services were dispatched.

When your wife has been injured and you desperately, urgently need medical help, and when every minute and second counts, you want the 911 dispatch operator to know where you are and you don’t want to be transferred five times to different dispatch centers. Think about it. Envision your own spouse there in a T-Bone accident, and you can’t even get help dispatched because you are routed to the wrong jurisdiction and even the correct one can’t find you on a map.

911 is a sham and a shame.