What’s Your Emergency? Noise?

Austin’s ABC affiliate, KVUE, has a top story on their website about a woman claiming she called 911 and was placed on hold.

At face value, this is possibly newsworthy. No one wants to hear a recorded message saying that all operators are busy when someone is having a heart attack or in trying to report a fire or anything like that.

Austin 911 admitted that at times such messages may answer the phone when, at peak, all 15 operators are busy at a given moment, which makes sense as well. Assuming that it doesn’t happen often, I don’t expect the City to have 30 operators if the call volume hits 16 only one in a blue moon.

Two things about the story stand out: First, the City claims that records show that the woman was never put on hold, but in fact called and reported the same “emergency” incident twice. The City, however, does admit that it’s possible that the records did not capture her hold-and-hang-up call. It should be recorded, but maybe it didn’t.

The second was the exact nature of the emergency: a noise complaint.

Someone was playing loud music.

That’s a life-or-death emergency?

Now, I’m surprised the woman is upset and even more surprised that KVUE thought airing this was worth anyone’s time. Note to all: Unless your “emergency” is life-or-death or an event that will result in loss of property (i.e. fire), assume it’s not an emergency and call 311 first.






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