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03.10.2011 07:26

The US Emergency Service 911 and American Media

David Mchedlidze
Features

They meet us hospitably at 911.  They show us the office and the modern technologies.  911 does not participate in operations itself; its function is mobilizing other, emergency services.  It is more a dispatching office that receives up to 1 million calls every year.

We are talking about the Saint Paul 911.  130 employees work here and the shift leaders regulate the working system.  The given service distributes information to police, fire rescue and ambulance services.  It all depends on the content of a call.  911 employees tell us they sometimes receive false calls too, but they do not punish anyone for that.  Number of such false calls increases after lessons about 911 are conducted at schools.  As for relations with the media, the representative of 911 Don Smiley says that they communicate with journalists daily.  They provide information about the facts to the journalists.  Don Miley believes that communication with journalists is good the service.  Sometimes journalists catch the radio frequency of 911 and receive information about incident more operatively.  They do not blame journalists for that.  Although complete information is never transmitted by the radio it is still enough for reports, as they are able to determine the location.  Representatives of rescue services receive complete information at the monitors that they have in vehicles.  I asked if any journalists have confidential sources in the 911.  Don confirms that there has been such a fact when one of the employees of 911 provided information to one journalist.  According to Don that employee did that free-of-charge; he was unhappy with the job.  Later 911 proposed cooperation to that journalist and there was no point in have a confidential source.  First call to 911 was made in Alabama in 1968.  Telephone company provided a free index of 9 to the emergency dispatching service.  Our hosts are interested how operative services work in Georgia and how they communicate with the media.  We tell them communication is problematic.  Receiving information from the police is almost impossible and the MIA provides only its own materials to journalists.

We also tell them that quite often policemen violate the rights of journalists.  911 employees are surprised and tell us that the Bill of Freedom regulates everything in the USA and nobody can refuse to give public information to a journalist.  After the lecture they took us to the dispatching hall.  Blue light is seen at operators' tables, which means that it is prohibited to make photos of them.  This big hall is completely quite.  Operators speak with the citizens calmly and try to receive maximum information from them, in order to better help them.

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