911 Is a Joke

Madness in Motown:

Five-year-old Robert Turner's mother had collapsed on the floor, and he was scared, but he knew what to do. He called 911 for help.

Even so, the Detroit boy was twice scolded by a dispatcher who told him to stop playing around.


A recording of the 911 call, provided by the family to the Detroit Free Press, indicates the operator hung up on the boy after saying she would send police to the home.

When the boy called back three hours later, the dispatcher told him he "shouldn't be playing on the phone." The dispatcher said at one point, according to the tapes, "Now put her (his mother) on the phone before I send the police out there to knock on the door and you going to be in trouble."

Turner was dead when police eventually arrived.

The operator will keep her job given the number of years on the job. She's also being defended and her mistake explained away. Why?

Enter the unions:

Kimberly Harris, president of the local union of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, defended one unnamed dispatcher involved. "If I had an emergency, I would want her to be on the other end of the line," said Harris, who is also a 911 operator. "I will swear to that."

Harris said that more than 25% of calls that 911 operators receive are pranks and that Robert's voice was inaudible at times.

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False Positives (Part 2) In

False Positives (Part 2)
In a perfect world, these sorts of things wouldn't happen. But pretending that either government or the private sector could effectively eliminate these risks is a Utopian pipe-dream, and I'm not going to enterain that argument. That having been said...

FYI - Geoffrey Fieger (of

FYI - Geoffrey Fieger (of Jack Kevorkian fame) is working on filing a suit on behalf of the deceased's family.

It will be interesting (and probably anti-climactic) to follow the story, if they don't just bury it like they do with the rest of our problems in Detroit...

defcon:blog, I don't think

defcon:blog, I don't think anyone is arguing this event would have been prevented under a free market scenario. All we are arguing is that she would have been fired if not for the Union.

yes. I'm well aware of

yes. I'm well aware of that. You're responding to a trackbacked blog entry that you obviously didn't read.

If you took the time, you'd see that I spell out pretty clearly why I think both dispatchers ought to lose their jobs.


Doinkicarus, I read the


I read the trackbacked article and you didn't address his concern.

There are two ways in which private institutions could deal with this better. The first is to fire the dispatcher. The second is to recognize the problem and to change the training. The second is useless without the first since some employees really won't care about such training if they have absolute job security.

No, Brian - I didn't address

No, Brian - I didn't address the concern. I was trying to address the tortured logic of those who would stand in defense of the operators. But I specifically stated that it was not my intention to argue the merits of a privatized emergency system. I certainly agree that it could've been handled better, and very well would've been handled better by a private firm, but that's another issue. We cannot address every problem of reality by dogmatically referring to the libertopian ideal of the free-market.

I believe a more free market would mitigate these problems. But you have to demonstrate how they would do so, you can't simply state "They will perform better than the government," and call it a day. Step One is addressing the problem or problems.

I said exactly what you concluded in you're response: Either blame the dispatchers and fire them both, or recognize a serious flaw in the way calls are handled, and change the procedures.