Education is always key in any aspect of life, and that is no different with the use of 9-1-1.
It is heard told many times that 9-1-1 is for emergencies only. Emergencies we are taught as fires, car accidents, heart attacks, breathing problems, industrial accidents, burglaries or kidnappings. Education must include the emergencies that we don’t talk about much, or has a stigma attached to them. These emergencies that have been seen in the past as something people don’t talk ‘aloud’ about. The emergencies that no one ever wants to think about happening. The truth is that they do happen, they happen more than what is known because people have been taught or understood not to intervene in someone else’s family issues.
Here is an everyday life happening example that has probably happened many times already this year and no one wants to talk about it.
Your child has made a new friend, he would like to stay the night with this friend. You have met his parents at the football games. These boys are great on defense for the mighty mite team and has clicked. You are happy to see the new friendships grow. Mom and dad seem nice just ordinary people. You let little Jacob go home with Robert and his family, after the game to play and spend the night. The day goes on, you get a text from Robert’s mom how the boys are having a great time and will be having pizza for dinner. Jacob is only 10 and does not have his own phone.
Jacob is exploring all of Robert’s toys enjoying the newest video game. Robert’s dad is doing some yard work while drinking a few beers. Robert’s mom is finishing up some laundry and household chores. Normal weekend life, until it was not. Later, during dinner, Robert did not want to finish his slice of pizza. His dad was very insistent that he did and yelled loudly, while slamming his fist on the table, that he better finish it if he knew what was good for him.
This took Jacob by surprise as he had not experienced anything like this in his home. He noticed while he was eating, that Robert’s dad seemed to be more irritated. As dinner was finishing up, Robert’s mom told the boys to go play. Jacob and Robert went to Robert’s room to play video games. The boys were playing and enjoying themselves, the game was a little loud. Robert’s dad yelled at them to turn it down. Pretty soon Jacob heard yelling and more yelling and things being broken. He asked Robert what the noise was. Robert told him that his dad gets mad sometimes after he has been drinking, then he and his mom fight. About that time Robert’s dad came in the bedroom and started yelling at the boys, they rushed into the living room not knowing what to do. They were sitting there while dad went to the back of the house yelling and throwing things. Jacob saw the cell phone lying on the table. He tried to call his parents, no answer. He knew that he was frightened and needed help. He then dialed 9-1-1.
Phone rings into dispatch:
Dispatcher: “9-1-1, Where is your emergency?”
Jacob: “I am at Robert’s house and his dad is being mean, yelling and fighting with Robert’s mom.”
Dispatcher: “I will get help to you. What is your name? What is the address you are at?
Jacob: “Jacob, I don’t know the address I am at Robert’s house.”
At this point the dispatcher can hear the dad and mom fighting in the background.
Dispatcher: “Jacob can you ask Robert the address? Where are you at in the house?”
Jacob: “We are in the living room; Robert said his address is 1234 Main St. I tried to call my mom, but she did not answer.”
Dispatcher: “How old are you, Jacob?”
Dispatcher: “Jacob, it does seem scary, but you are doing a great job, I am going to stay on the phone with you as long as I can.”
The dispatcher will ask as many questions as possible to help the officer and advise Jacob what to do to stay safe, if it is needed.
The officer was there within two minutes of the call, it was in the city limits and the officer was nearby when the call came in. It was an active domestic situation. The officer was able to contact Jacob’s parents and they picked him up. Jacob had never been in a situation like this before, but thanks to his parents teaching him that even unknown situations can be an emergency he was quick act and call 9-1-1 after not being able to reach his parents.
Why didn’t Robert’s mom or Robert call for help? This is always the question everyone wonders about. There are many variables for an answer; mainly it is the stigma of the information being known “that it happened to my family.” It could be that they have called for help in the past and it was worse from dad the next time.
In this scenario, Jacob was educated well by his parents. A few other scenarios to think and talk to your children including your children’s friends about. A friend may tell them that their parents hit them with different objects. The parents are not feeding the child. Maybe the child is being locked up at home. Is there a child at school that your child and friends are always talking about not wanting to go home? Was your child on the school bus and noticed that the quiet child was slammed into the back seat of the car when she arrived at the driveway?
Just because that is a ‘good family’ does not mean they do not have issues. Society, as a whole, must take that step to make it “normal” to talk about all the possibilities. Just as it is important to know that 9-1-1 is not to be misused, one must understand that not to be afraid to call for the unknown emergencies.
The Texas County Emergency Services office in Houston is funded by a 3/8-cent countywide sales tax approved by voters in 2013. Assistant director Terra Culley can be reached by phone at 417-967-5309 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.