Area child learns a lesson from calling 911

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com
We are taught as children to apologize for our mistakes; to say we "are sorry", and that is exactly what one child did recently.
On Friday morning, an envelope arrived at the office of the Carter County 911 Communications Center. Tucked neatly inside it was a card containing the shaky and unsure writing of a child.
"Dear 9-1-1 Operator," the note read. "On July 28, Monday night, I called 9-1-1 while my Mom was at work. I thought it would be fun. I was wrong. It was bad. It made me fell sad and all nervous inside. I promise I will never call again except for real emergencies. Thank You." At the end of the note, the little boy signed his name.
"We've gotten thank you notes before, but we've never gotten one that says, 'sorry, I made a boo boo'," said 911 dispatcher Lesia Fields. "That was better than a thank you note."
While Fields was not the dispatcher who took the call from the little boy, she was working when the card arrived on Friday. "We thought it was really mature of the child to sit and write it out, and really responsible of the parent to take a vested interest that their child knows right from wrong," Fields said.
Calls from children that turn out to be pranks or hang-ups are a common occurrence at the 911 Communications Center. "We get several calls with children calling in and usually hanging up," Fields said. "Anytime we get a hang up, we try to make contact back. If we can't immediately make contact we automatically send an officer. That is protocol."
According to Fields, some of the children make non-emergency calls to 911 out of curiosity. "They see the rescue shows on TV, and they call in because they think it will be funny, or they call to see what will happen," she said.
Fields said such calls increase during the summer months when children are out of school and at home. "Unfortunately a lot of them are home alone," she said.
Some of the non-emergency calls that come in from children occur accidentally when the child is trying to call someone else. "If you hold the 9 down on the phone for an extended length of time it will automatically dial 911," Fields said. "We will call them back and they'll be scared. They will tell us they didn't mean to call us that they were trying to call their grandma or someone else."
Fields said that it's important for parents to talk to their children concerning when it is necessary to call 911; what they should do in case of an emergency, and what to do in the event that they accidentally dial 911. "The training begins at home," Fields said.
If someone dials 911 by mistake, they need to tell the dispatcher who answers the phone that the number was dialed by mistake, Fields said.