DEAR ABBY: I'm a 911 dispatcher and I am shocked by the abuse of the 911 system. We are here to help in times of emergency, but our lines are continuously tied up by people who don't have one. Please help by passing along this plea to your readers:
1. Please don't call to ask for phone numbers; we are not Information.
2. If you are on a speakerphone or shouting, WE CAN'T HEAR YOU CLEARLY! We know you are upset, but we can't help if we can't understand where you are or what type of assistance you need.
3. Do not assume that our computers can pick up your location. We can get an idea of where you are, but there is no guarantee that the information is accurate.
4. Every question we ask is important. You may not think so, but we wouldn't ask if the information was not vital.
5. And please, don't call us asking for directions or the time!
A dispatcher's job is to keep our responders and the public safe. When our lines are tied up by people who abuse the system, we are unable to help those in dire need of our help. We spend our days dealing with high-stress situations, and we do our best to guarantee a safe outcome for everyone involved. Please respect the 911 emergency system and call only for true emergencies. -- 911 DISPATCHER
DEAR 911 DISPATCHER: I'm printing your letter because it boggles my mind that anyone would be so stupid or inconsiderate as to deliberately call the emergency phone number asking for directions or the time. It is my understanding that some of the 911 systems are antiquated, and too many calls can tie them up, leaving someone with a real emergency unable to get through. In times like that, minutes can be critical. Perhaps the problem would be solved if callers who did not have a true emergency were fined for doing so -- since I'm sure you have the number from which the call was placed.