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Letter To The Editor - 911

Deb Perrin

Sturgis, Mich.


To the Editor:

The other day I was driving north and stopped at the light at Centerville and Chicago Rd. in Sturgis. The occupants of a black KIA in the left turn lane and the car directly in front of me (straight-through lane), a gold-hued compact, all jumped out of their vehicles and started a fistfight. The two guys were rolling between cars, swinging, cursing, kicking and punching. Both females and males held up traffic and caused a nice ruckus.

I dial 9-1-1. A dispatcher answers. I start reeling off license plate numbers, vehicle descriptions and tell her what is happening. She interrupts my “citizen’s report” to ask, “Excuse me. Are you in Michigan?”

“Yes, I just told you from where I’m calling,” I responded.
“Oh. You have to connect to Michigan 9-1-1, this is LaGrange,” she explained.

Needless to say I was not happy with her response. I shouted (something to the effect of) “Never mind – by the time you “transfer” me...the incident will be over and everyone will have left the scene.

I can only thank God they don’t have guns! Otherwise, all concerned would be long dead by the time you “transferred” this citizen’s emergency call!”

I want to know why any operator of the 9-1-1 system can’t connect a call to the appropriate 9-1-1 system and generate a police or emergency response by repeating my call verbatim. Even if the call drifts across state lines due to cell roaming.

I was home in my driveway later when the St Joseph 9-1-1 operator called my cell in an attempt to gather information. NO, I had nothing. By then it was too late! I hadn’t written down plate numbers – I was occupied with getting my vehicle out of the battle zone.

On the phone, I was reading the numbers and describing the vehicles to a 9-1-1 operator who I thought was paying attention!

Wrong! Instead of verifying details - the LaGrange 9-1-1 operator was more concerned with telling me I had a “wrong number.”

Once again – Thank God the fighters were not armed or I might not have been able to get home. I am not going to stay in danger at a fight scene while two
“sophisticated” 9-1-1 operating systems cannot even manage to coordinate information between them.

St Joseph County, Michigan and LaGrange County, Indiana need to better coordinate their 9-1-1 responses. This could not have been a “first.”

9-1-1 operator priority should be to gather ALL the pertinent information first – THEN worry about connecting with the “other” operator. If the caller is able to stay on the line, then it can be repeated – if not – then at least the first 9-1-1 operator has documented the information and passed it along to law enforcement officers in the proper jurisdiction to respond.