The 911 number should never go unanswered
On my way to work yesterday morning, I saw a well-kept elderly man sitting alongside Homestretch Avenue. I thought it was an unlikely place for him to be, but went about my own business. To my disbelief however, he was still there when I passed again after 5 pm; this time lying in the grass, drenched of course from the heavy downpour of yesterday’s rain. He had been there all day!
My first reaction was to call 911 but the phone rang out. I then called 913, hoping to get an ambulance, but that too rang out. Next I called Kaieteur News and pleaded with the gentleman who answered the phone to get in touch with someone who could help this man. The gentleman promised to “see what we can do”. This did not quell my worry however, so I called 911 again.
This time, the call was answered – by a woman who sounded as though she was aroused from her slumber. I proceeded to make the report. I informed her that the man did not appear to be destitute. She interrupted, “wha yuh say?” I clarified that the man does not appear to be ‘homeless’, but he had perhaps wandered off from home. I gave her directions to where he was and pleaded with her to get him to a hospital. After she took my name and number, she said a care-free “ok”.
After a long pause, I thought I’d lost the call, so I said, “Hello?” Her response was “I said ok”. I reminded this woman that her job requires professionalism. Her response was, “Madam, I said ok. What else you want me to say?” “Well how about I’ve taken note of your report and we will get an ambulance to pick him up?” I responded. The lady repeated everything I said and added, “Would that satisfy you?” Can you believe that?
The 911 number should never go unanswered and the people who answer emergency calls should be well-trained, polite professionals. I strongly recommend training in telephone etiquette and service delivery. Thankfully, when I passed by last night he was no longer there, so I assume some action was taken. I do hope this poor old fellow was reunited with his family and is resting safely.
Editor’s Note: A copy of this letter has been forwarded to the Police Public Relations Office for comment