Maybe it’s time to consolidate 911 calls to one location

Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 11, 2017

If you’re lucky, you may never need to dial 911. But if you do, it could be a frustrating experience.

More than five years ago I attended a show at a Picayune bar to see a local band play.

During the show some of the audience became a bit rowdy, ending in one person being struck over the head with a beer bottle.

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He fell to the ground bleeding, and several people attempted to render aid. I, on the other hand, called 911. It was the first time I ever dialed those three numbers in succession.

I was greeted by a nice enough voice, who after hearing the tale I told, informed me that she would have to send me to another agency, the Picayune Police Department.

Since I was calling from a cellphone, my call automatically went to the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department.

After being transferred to the Picayune dispatch center and reiterating my story for a second time, the polite dispatcher informed me that since an ambulance may be required, I would have to be transferred for yet a third time.

All told, I spent more time on the phone trying to secure medical assistance for the injured patron than I felt necessary.

Eventually the ambulance arrived, and the guy was taken out of the bar alive and well.

This week, I learned why I was transferred so many times. First I was calling from a cellphone, of which all calls go directly to the sheriff’s department.

Second, the call required an ambulance, and since the ambulance company dictates that they will dispatch their own crews, I was required to tell that story a third time.

There has to be a way to consolidate the process. By at least cutting out the ambulance dispatch service, a person calling from a cellphone would only have to request aid twice if they are in the county.

If only one law enforcement agency dispatched all calls, that number could be cut to one, no matter where in the county they are standing.