Lunaya Pravda

24 March 2006

Why calling 911 shouldn't be the only option

911 calls in Chattanooga go unanswered

Thousands of calls to Chattanooga's 911 call center have been going unanswered, according to records examined after a caller was unable to report a kitchen fire because three of four dispatchers were taking breaks at the same time.

Stacey Hunter and her family members called 911 from her home phone and cellular phones Monday afternoon when the fire broke out, but the calls went unanswered. Finally, Artterius Bonds, and 14-year-old nephew, Quayshaune Fountain, ended up running a half mile to get help from the fire station. No one was hurt.

This is one of many reasons I don't buy gun control advocates' continued insistance that calling 911, or any emergency service, is a decent solution to an emergency. In fact, it's often the only solution they offer.

Imagine this scenario: you're a single woman, living alone, and someone is breaking into your home in the middle of the night. Do you reach for the phone, or did you wise up and purchase a firearm and train to use it? Now, even if you call 911 and they actually answer, it still takes precious minutes for them to report the crime and officers to respond. And keep in mind that police are not legally obligated to protect you.

But there's a chance a 911 operator won't pick up your call or, even worse, will answer your call and send no one.

Hoyt Branham, who lives in northern Hamilton County, said that in October 2004 he severed an artery in his arm while working in his shop. He called 911 in Chattanooga, told them he was bleeding profusely and provided his location. But no one showed up.

Branham, 70, said he was alone and getting weak, so he called neighbors and his daughter ended up taking him to the hospital. He said 911 operators later denied that he called, but a review of their recording equipment showed he did.

Yet another reason gun control advocates need to take a good, long pause and rethink recommending calling 911 as a first response.

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