Thursday, March 11, 2010


So, a little over a month ago, I wrote a scathing review, of sorts, of the 911 system, and, more to the point, their incompetent operators.

I do still stand by my proposition that we should train convicted criminals to man the 911 phone lines so that they're 1) not getting a free ride, 2) giving back to the society they betrayed, and 3) we don't have to rely on underpaid, untrained, incapable gits who couldn't master the phrase, "Do you want fries with that?"

But it's important to reiterate what I also said then... that there is a handful of really amazing 911 operators, who have gone above and beyond, despite the tragically sad pay and the equally ridiculous level of training, to provide not only quality service, but genuine comfort, and, above all, help.

This morning on The Today Show, they had on one such operator, Monique Patino. It should be noted that she's a mother of a 7- and a 5-year-old, which, in my opinion, does give her a heightened sense of awareness, and which, also in my opinion, allowed her to not only react in a timely manner, but respond to the caller in exactly the right way. And no, it's not really surprising at all that a mother already juggling a full load would still be able to pull this off, but it's terribly sad that we have to overtap an already maxed out resource in order to ensure there's someone level-headed enough on the other end of the line when an emergency arises.

By far, the most phenomenal part of the story, is the 7-year-old boy (Carlos) who, by calling 911, saved his entire family from armed intruders. What's so terrifying, though, is that had it been one of those 911 operators I'd written about previously, the ending to this story could've been horrifically different.

If you missed it, here's the clip. Of course we turned this into a teachable moment this morning. And we'll be running a 911 drill this afternoon. Especially because I password protect my iPhone -- and have no frickin' intention of giving them access -- so they need to know how to use those really archaic thingies that are plugged into the wall and gathering dust, or, at the very least, how to get to the OnStar button in the truck.

For my kiddos, though, their favorite part of the clip by far is at the very end when they ask the little boy if that was him heard screaming on the tape:

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