Robert’s column

Robert Barron column: Respect needed for 911 program

The dispatcher said she would send a police unit to my home

A number of years ago, I woke up early one morning to discover that the power had gone out during the night.

All of the clocks in my home were run on electricity, so I had no idea what time of the day it was.

As it was a work day, I needed to know what time it was so I could plan my morning activities accordingly.

Still half asleep, I picked up my phone (in an era before cell phones) with the intention of calling 411 to ask the operator for the time.

But in my groggy state of mind, I accidentally dialed 911 and was suddenly talking to a police dispatcher who was asking me what was the nature of my emergency.

I was instantly wide awake as I realized my error and apologized profusely to the dispatcher after I explained what had happened.

I thought that would be sufficient to correct my mistake, satisfy the dispatcher and begin my day, but the dispatcher wouldn’t just let it go at that.

She asked if I was alone and if anyone else lived in the house.

I said there was nobody else there and I was the sole tenant of the house, explaining again that it was all a mistake and apologized for the second time in a matter of minutes in an attempt to get her off the phone and put this foolish incident behind me.

But it was not to be.

The dispatcher said she would send a police unit to my home anyway, implying the authorities wanted to make sure there were no nefarious activities that I was trying to hide.

Sure enough, about five minutes later, a police cruiser pulled up.

The two officers politely asked if anyone else was in the house as they looked past me into the front room looking for anything suspicious or out of place.

I figured the only way I was going to end this ongoing nightmare was to invite the officers in so they could look around the house for themselves.

They took me up on the offer and made a quick inspection before finally deciding, however hesitantly, that I was telling the truth.

I apologized again as they left, making the first hour of that day the most apologetic of my life.

I’ve thought about that incident a lot since and, although it was annoying and even a little frightening at the time, I have to commend that dispatcher and the police officers for their work that morning.

Despite my apologies and explanations, they did their jobs and made sure that there was nothing going on in my house.

Inspector Chris Bear, head of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment, reported last week that false 911 calls are becoming a big challenge for police in the Valley, mainly due to cell phones.

“Many are pocket dials (on cell phones) and nothing is heard on call backs,” he said.

“Many answer the phone and find out it’s the police and, for some reason, try to hang up or turn their phone off. Ideally, if people do accidentally call 911, they need to stay on the phone and talk with police dispatchers who then confirm if there is an actual emergency or not.”

Police resources in the Valley are increasingly being stretched, so people should be careful with their phones and acknowledge when mistakes are made if 911 is accidentally called.

It saves everyone a lot of time and trouble in the end.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Two applications for pot shops in Duncan get green light

The Original Farm and Buds and Leaves would be the city’s first marijuana stores

Baker and Barbarians take Paris World Games by storm

Duncan rugby player helps Canadian side to gold

VIDEO: Lake Cowichan council to grill Catalyst July 23 on ‘end run’ around weir pumping agreement

Councillors want community out in force at meeting to hear what’s going on with the weir

Valley field hockey players bring home gold from nationals

Cowichan U18s help Island to unprecentend first-place finish

Duncan Grande Parade draws a crowd

Entries old and new enjoyed by a big audience

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Nanaimo-Opoly will let board game players deal Harbour City properties

Victoria’s Outset Media and Walmart Canada partner on local edition of popular game

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

UPDATE: West Kelowna fawn euthanized, not claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer has been euthanized after a suitable home was not found in time

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

Port Hardy RCMP cleared in arrest that left man with broken ribs, punctured lung: IIO

The IIO noted the matter will not be referred to crown counsel for consideration of charges.

B.C. man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

Most Read