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My mom recently fell again. It’s always terrifying when she falls. We had a call alert button that never did work for detecting falls or responding to pushing button. Then they finally responded at the worst possible time, when I am speaking to 911 dispatcher. I had two new buttons sent out. None worked. I canceled the service and only call 911 now. The call button service ended up being more trouble than it’s worth.


So I end up with three people trying to speak to me at once, not fun, stressful! My mom, call button service and dispatcher all talking at same time, grrrrr.


I don’t multitask. I put priorities in order and speak to 911 dispatcher. EMS are prompt in getting to my home and do a wonderful job when here.


However, the 911 operators are not always pleasant to deal with, sometimes downright rude or condescending when trying to convey the situation at hand.


I fully realize they have a stressful job and I empathize with them. I also realize they burnout as well. Meanwhile though, I need urgent care for my mom after a fall.


They do not listen to details. I end up having to repeat. I remain calm when I speak to them so I know that they should be able to understand me speaking.


It’s like they are only interested in asking questions rather than listening to the answer.


Some dispatchers are wonderful getting the info immediately, sending help ASAP and being compassionate.


Others have been rude, condescending and not very good at communicating or listening.


Would any of you feel that a complaint should be made and who do I even make a complaint to?

No, I'd suggest letting it go unless they refused to help. Everyone has a bad hair day now and then and too often dispatchers are plagued with people whose "emergencies" are not actually emergencies at all. If at all possible, cut people a little slack.  I assume you don't have the type of situation where it is reasonable to endanger someone's livelihood.

My sister was an emergency responder (a volunteer fire dept.) and there were constant calls for help from individuals who really were not safe living in their homes (different from mom living with you, I understand) but you know, life is what it is and actually 911 type service is a fairly recent thing. I'd say, be glad for what you have and let the little stuff go.
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 18, 2019
Yeah, I just don’t want to be treated this way on a regular basis. I get what you’re saying.

I hope they take vacations when needed.
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I feel bad for the dispatchers. I had them on the phone daily and the FD was at the house everyday for a lift. I was annoyed as they were with the calls and it was tense.

One day, I called, exes father, on blood thinners, clipped his hemmorroids with toenail clippers and was bleeding. Mind you, this was not funny at all just a day in my life but the operator who was unpleasant normally got a kick out of it as did most people. I remember her asking if I had a a suppository or a feminine hygiene product to stop the bleeding all while laughing. Nope, not going there. It was a moment. After that, they were really nice and joked with me.

When falls or calls become excessive, it is time for placement.
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 18, 2019
I feel bad for them too but I don’t call everyday. Even if I did they aren’t supposed to be rude.

What a story about clipping hemmmorroids!
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Never had a rude 911 operator, but have had condescinding Fire and EMT. One EMT said in a not so nice way about shoveling snow, even though the area had been slammed by a snowstorm,and the snow had been shoveled the best it could.
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 18, 2019
shad,

That much snow must be a challenge. I’m a southern gal, so anything under 60 or 70 degrees and I am freezing. Don’t think I could adapt to the cold.
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These calls are monitored. Hopefully a supervisor picks up on the rudeness. I can see where the operator needs to stay on the line till confirmation of responders have shown up but unless a child, I can't see them making conversation to keep an adult engaged.

You can always ask to speak to a supervisor and then complain about the rudeness. I understand burnout but these people are trained and should be able to keep their frustrations in check. If they don't like the job anymore, find a new one.

I had a button for Mom and problem was it worked too well. She had a motion sensor one and everytime it hit something, the operator would come on to see if Mom was OK.
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 18, 2019
JoAnn,

Yep, those buttons are tricky. First one worked as you said, well, for a short while. Then the others didn’t work properly. Was more trouble than it’s worth.

I may do as you say and speak to a supervisor. Worried in Cali and DeeAnna gave great advice.

Thanks for responding and if it continues to happen speaking to a supervisor might be in order.
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I have a low tolerance for people that treat me rudely because my need causes them to have to do what they get paid to do.

I would say something to the person you are speaking to, maybe, I understand you deal with a lot of emergencies and weirdos everyday and that has to be tremendously difficult, however, I don't and I'm not, so please modify your anger with me, thank you.

I don't think it's the true emergencies that cause them so much attitude, it's every nut ball that calls for insanity and enjoyment that causes short tempers. Most people don't know they are being pizzy when they're stressed out, so politely telling them usually changes it.

I also have noticed that when I get their name and employee #, I get way better service because now I know who to complain about if it needs doing. It is okay to ask with whom you are speaking and an identifying #, I have been hung up on by rude people, so I ask right away, who am I speaking with and I can identify you with? Then I say hi, my name and the reason for my call.

Authority with no accountability will always have bad results.
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 18, 2019
isthisreallyreal,

Yep, True. Maybe they don’t realize it but it’s annoying as hell. Ever notice the people that don’t realize it though, are the first to complain when something happens to them. I’ve seen that over and over. And you look at them with amazement and bite your tongue wanting to tell them to look in the mirror! Haha
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Contact the 911 Call Center via their non-emergency or business phone number and ask to speak to a supervisor. Ask the supervisor what is their procedure for a "non-emergency lift assistance" and what wording you need to use when calling 911 for lift assistance. Also, ask the supervisor what you should expect from a 911 dispatcher when you do call in a "non-emergency lift assistance" and what type of questions are normal procedure for a non-emergency phone call. Most dispatchers have clue cards or notebook that they have to follow when answering phone calls.  In a very nice, calm, pleasant voice inform the supervisor that sometimes when you have called in the past, the dispatcher has been "rude, condescending and not very good at communicating or listening".

Also, sometimes the dispatch computer program dictates how often the dispatchers ask a question. If the dispatch computer program does not understand your answer that the dispatcher typed in, the computer program will repeat the question until it gets the answer it needs/wants/requires.

When our 911 Call Center computers were upgraded, the new software did not have the names of the businesses or companies listed as locations that rescue squad or fire trucks could be dispatched to; they only had the address listed so you had to tell the dispatcher the address that you were at and not just the name of the business or store. Most people do not know the official address of their church, school, court house, grocery store, etc. Ironically, someone had a heart attack while in the courthouse--the same building that our 911 Call Center is located in--but the dispatchers could not send out the rescue squad because no one who worked at the courthouse or the Call Center could remember the address for the courthouse. Once someone was able to tell the dispatchers the address of the courthouse, then the rescue squad was dispatched.  Rather sad, isn't it?

Unfortunately some dispatchers resent receiving non-emergency phone calls and think that these phone calls should be answered by someone else.  Some dispatchers have received so many non-emergency phone calls that they have become angry at people in general who make legitimate non-emergency phone calls such requesting "lift assistance". It is only when someone (you) speaks up, then these disgruntled dispatchers are identified and receive the extra training or re-assignment or whatever to assist them in being better public servants and better 911 dispatchers. Most likely you are not the only one that these dispatchers have be not very good at communicating with.
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 18, 2019
DeeAnna,

Yes, It is sad and as I just said to worried in Cali, your answer is very helpful and you also got the gist of my question. I appreciate your understanding and wonderful advice. Thanks so much!
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Where I live, they call this a lift assist and all you have to do is call 911 and ask for one. They only send the fire department out. (Every fire station here has paramedics too). They won’t send the police. What you describe sounds pretty normal to me! I’m not definitely not excusing the rudeness, I’m just saying when I’ve called 911 for help, the call take is usually short of patience and asks the same questions. So I totally get where you are coming from. I have been tempted to complain, it wouldn’t be hard with my connections.
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 18, 2019
Thank you, worried for understanding my frustration. I appreciate that. Yes, you are accurate in your description. They are short in patience and an ugly tone in their voice. I’m certainly not opposed to answering their questions and I certainly know they are important but I can’t help but think to myself how rude they are being to people in the community that are simply reaching out for help.

You gave the most understanding and sensibe answer to this situation and got the gist of my question perfectly. Thanks again!

Who would I complain to? It’s not something the community should have to deal with. 911 operators should do their jobs professionally and with compassion. The trained fire department are wonderful here and have won awards for their life saving skills. I have no complaints about them. They are also caring each and every time they come out.
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The fire department is fantastic! The care they give is excellent. It’s just that the dispatchers could either use more training or a refresher course perhaps. Maybe even a vacation so they can treat callers with more respect. It’s sad.
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My dad fell frequently - he needed help getting up. They lived in a very rural area so every non-emergency pick up required taking EMS technicians to him and possibly missing a true emergency. They asked us to refer to "non urgent pick up" for two reasons:

1) critical resources could be available for true emergencies
2) non critical pick up resources WOULD NOT try to take him to the hospital.

When they used EMS technicians - if my dad refused to go to the hospital (which EMS were called to get him to) - they had a ton of paperwork to fill out and my dad to sign stating he understood the implications of not going to the hospital. Waste of time for the professionals.

If he obviously seemed disoriented or needed stitches - they would haul him in over his objections. He was terrified that a hospital trip would result in nursing home placement - which it did when he fell and broke his pelvis.

You need to find out if you can request "non emergency pick up" when it is obvious that the elder is not hurt. It is great that 911 are willing to pick up seniors who fall and it is non emergency. I think it is kind of a waste of these resources myself - but who can they call I suppose?
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 18, 2019
That is a nice option. We aren’t even asked if it isn’t a non emergency situation.
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It’s frustrating and disappointing to have burned out 911 operators answer the phone.

Reminds me of my daughter’s fourth grade teacher was burned out (admitted it to me) and said she was not going to teach art. I told her that it was part of the curriculum and she had to. She said I am leaving this year so I don’t care anymore and I hate art projects so you do it or they won’t have art.

I volunteered every week. I loved art and agreed to do it. She should have stopped teaching long before she did. If a person is no longer functioning well, they should quit and let someone else take over.
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rovana Mar 18, 2019
In this economy, survival is the bottom line - you do what you have to do.  We are really a third world country, but for some reason many Americans refuse to face the realities of that.  I've done a lot of customer service type work over the years - I'd say unless you have a really serious issue, suck it up, a tone of voice is just not worth worrying about.
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They are doing what they are trained to do. You do realize that when you call in an accident like that, part of their job is keeping you on the phone until help arrives. While they are asking you all those questions, they have already dispatched help. Asking you those questions keeps you on the phone and engaged.

As cwillie pointed out, many areas have a non emergency way to have people come over and pick someone up if there is no serious injury. Regularly 911 is meant for them to come over, stabilize and then transport to the hospital. If there is no injury and you just need help picking her back up, the non medical emergency method is the way to go. It'll probably take longer though. Since who comes over are police or fireman when they otherwise have nothing else to do.

I tried doing that once. The only time I have ever called for help. In my city, you call 911 and state that you need a "secondary priority non-medical pickup". They are supposed to send over a couple of people to pick someone up. Instead they ended up sending a fire engine and rescue ambulance over and filling grandma's room up with firemen who triaged her, picked her up and took her to the hospital. I even met them outside when I heard the sirens and told them again it wasn't an emergency. But since they had already been called out, they went ahead with the full emergency procedure anyways.
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 18, 2019
Fully aware and I respect them greatly. I appreciate their hard work. I’m talking about I answer a question and they ask the same question over and over again instead of going to the next important question.

By the way, It would be nice if they stayed on the phone until help arrived. Nope! Too rude and condescending to do that. Just hung up. Sad.

I have had terrific dispatchers that are efficient and compasionate. Plus they do stay on the phone until help arrives. It surprised me when the last couple of calls were not good.
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cwille,

I don’t know if there is a non emergency number to call. A senior falling is serious though. We’ve had hospital visits to have her head stapled.

I don’t call 911 unless I really need help.
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If you aren't worried about severe injury and aren't planning to transport her to the hospital I wonder if your area has a non emergency number they would rather that you call when you need that kind of help?
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 18, 2019
I can’t lift her off the floor by myself. I don’t know if she is hurt. I’ve had instructions by them not to move her.
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