On Emergency Calls

In the US and Canada, 9-1-1 is an emergency response number. Similar system also occur throughout the world, such as 000 (Australia), 100 (India, Israel), 112 (European Union, Hong Kong, and some non-EU countries), 113 (Norway), 117 (Philippines), 133 (Chile), 155 (Turkey), 999 (UK), and there are others.

In the US, calls to the 9-1-1 center are part of the public record – therefore, recorded calls may become part of a news report. Whether on a large cable/satellite network, a national network, or the local news, I’ve never thought much about these calls beyond hearing the initial account …. well, not until last month.

What you are about to read is simply the basic facts about the event – and by no means will I go into more details about the incident – thus keep in mind, my point in this post is regarding emergency calls being part of a news story.

A friend of mine was sitting in a chair one evening. His wife was sleeping, my wife received a Facebook comment from him, and within an hour, shots from outside his house killed him. His wife found him in the chair, thus called 9-1-1.

The next day, the local news included that emergency call as an update to their story. Hearing a person’s voice that I know well describing her discovery troubled me. Yes, this was my first encounter of knowing the people involved in a 9-1-1 call that made the news. Throughout my 60 years, I’ve had people close to me die of a wide range of ages – some unexpectedly, some from prolonged illness. – from heart attacks, cancer, accidents, and others – but never murder.

Nonetheless, hearing her voice made me think about 9-1-1 calls. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a wonderful service – but should emergency call center recordings remain private for a designated number of days as 30 or 60? What’s your opinion?