Dispatching is in the national news again and it is not good.
Let's begin with the obvious: former Fort Smith Police Department Dispatcher, Donna Reneau DOES NOT represent the thousands of Public Safety Telecommunicators who go above and beyond EVERY day. This story is pathetic from multiple perspectives. Debbie Stevens called 911 to report she was trapped in her SUV in rapidly rising waters. Reneau did send help but as part of the conversation lectured Ms. Stevens about her decision and inability to narrow her specific location. Sadly, the help didn't arrive in time due to the flooding and the caller drowned.
The call recording is disturbing. The story leaves a lot unsaid. Reneau tells Stevens "No cops are available" but what about fire/rescue personnel? I know from past agency policy, we never gave a time frame but we would say help was on the way.Why not say help is enroute while attempting to comfort and calm Stevens. The caller is very distraught and repeatedly mentions she can't swim. She also tells Reneau the water level in the car is rising.
Not knowing Agency policy, it is hard to second guess procedure but would it have been out of line to ask Stevens if she felt comfortable enough to try and get on the roof? Did she have something to use as a floatation device? Anything would have been better than sitting and waiting to drown.
Reneau was on her final shift (she had turned in her two week resignation).
You can hear the call at this link (copy and paste):
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