The below scenarios are from someone dialing 9-1-1 emergency.

Inside dispatch, dispatchers have made it to work, and their shift began just a bit ago. There have already been four emergency calls within the span of seventeen minutes. Two slide-off accidents, an accident where a car hit a tree and someone is at home not feeling well, as the phones continue to ring.

Dispatcher: “9-1-1, where is your emergency?”

Caller: “I have already called the power company, about my electricity being out. Can you tell me when will it be back on?”

Dispatcher: “I do not have any information on the time frame. I do know they are aware and are working on it.”

Dispatch had a call earlier and spoke with the power company when it was learned there were multiple outages and crews were heading out.

Dispatcher: “Do you have an emergency?”

Caller: “No, thank you.”

Dispatcher: “9-1-1, where is your emergency?”

Caller: “I am not home but my neighbor called and said that our electricity is out. Are they working on it?”

Dispatcher: “We are aware of the outages and that the electric company has people out working on it. We do not have information on a timeframe. Do you have an emergency?

Caller: “No, I will just wait and see.”

Dispatcher: “9-1-1, where is your emergency?”

Caller: “I don’t have an emergency yet. The electric company wouldn’t tell me how long it would be before the power comes back on.”

Dispatcher: “We do not have that information either, I know they are working on it. If you do not have an emergency, I am going to have to release the line.”

Dispatcher: “9-1-1, where is your emergency?”

Caller: “I don’t have an emergency, just a question. Will I be able to drive to town on these roads?”

Dispatcher: “I have not been able to check the road conditions       lately, however there is a phone number or a map on the internet that has the information you can check.”

Caller: “Can’t you just tell me? I don’t have that internet stuff.”

Dispatcher: “No, sorry I am active with emergency calls, I can give you the road conditions phone number if you like.”

Caller: “No, just tell me if I can drive it or not! Do your job!”  

As emergency lines are ringing in the background.

Dispatcher: “If you do not have an emergency, I am going to have to release the line.”

Caller: “A lot of good you are!”

Caller hangs up.

Dispatcher: “9-1-1, Where is your emergency?”

Caller: “I am sorry to bother you, however, my electricity is out. I am on oxygen, and halfway through my emergency tank. My son is out of town, and I am not sure what to do.”

Dispatcher: “I can send an ambulance to assist you to the hospital if you like.”

Caller: “I don’t want to put anyone out, but I don’t have any other options. If they could come, I would appreciate it.”

Dispatch obtained the address, phone number, and other information. An ambulance was dispatched along with first responders. This happened to be a day of a heavy snow.

Dispatcher: “9-1-1, where is your emergency?”

Caller: “I don’t have a damn emergency! I want to know what the power company it is doing. My electric has been out for       hours. Are they going to pay for my food if it ruins?”

Dispatcher: “This is an emergency line; I do know the electric company has many crews out working on the issue.”

Caller: “Well, there is going to be an emergency if I am out all this       money, and they can’t even keep the power on.

Dispatcher: “If you do not have an active emergency, I am going to release       the line.”

As the dispatcher is telling the caller about releasing the line, the caller continues to yell expletives at the dispatcher. The        line is released.

The same dispatcher answered the next call that was a request for an ambulance, for a severe laceration to the leg of a 67-year-old man who was chopping wood, the axe hit his leg. His wife had helped to get him inside before calling. However, they could not get the bleeding to stop. This gentleman was on blood thinners and had other medical history. Dispatch was able to send an ambulance and first responders while staying on the line providing instructions to control the bleeding. The ambulance and local first responders responded, driving as fast and as safely possible.

The above examples are only a slight glimpse of what dispatch goes through at any time of the day/month/year.
Over the years, some have begun to recognize 9-1-1 as the magic number for all occasions, without disregard for true emergencies. It is true, 9-1-1 is always willing to help, but there is no special power or source to advise the future or reach a utility company faster than their designated call line. 9-1-1 definitely cannot rush these valuable individuals who work out in all weather conditions to make sure we have our comfort or utilities restored.

I recommend including contact numbers for all your utilities, including the number or website for road conditions into your family plan. These can be stored in your cell phone or wrote out in a safe place.
On behalf of Texas County 9-1-1 I would like to send our sincere appreciation to all the electrical, water and road crews throughout – especially those within Texas County.

The Texas County Emergency Services office in Houston is funded by a 3/8-cent countywide sales tax approved by voters in 2013. Director Terra Culley can be reached by phone at 417-967-5309 or by email at

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