The Misuse and Abuse of 911
Anne Tenna
Resident Concerned Citizen

The Charles County sheriff's office in Maryland, said a man called 911 and made up a story about being robbed so that he could get a ride home.

Authorities said they were called to Hawthorne Road near Manor Drive in Ripley for a reported armed robbery. The man told officers that he had been walking on Route 225 when a car stopped and a someone put a gun to his head and demanded money. The man claimed to have complied and the suspects fled.

But as officers searched the area and noticed inconsistencies in his account, the man admitted fabricating the robbery story because he wanted a ride home.

He said his cell phone was out of minutes and 911 was the only number he could still call. Officials say charges against the man are pending.

If you've noticed, like I have recently, that there have been many reports of the misuse of the 911 emergency line, then maybe you would agree that somewhere along the way, people have failed to understand just exactly what constitutes as an emergency.

Now, it's my understanding that a real emergency is a serious or life-threatening situation that happens unexpectedly and warrants immediate action. This explanation, however, can be translated very loosely, because what may be considered "a serious or life-threatening situation demanding immediate action" depends on the situation and the person it's happening to.

One lady was recorded calling 911 because she had missed her exit, was lost, and needed help finding her way back. Technically, this is not a reason to dial 911, although to her, this was very serious, indeed! But unless you or (for example) an accident victim is severely injured and requires medical assistance, you'll probably be much better getting your bearings from a GPS system (or asking for directions).

I should also reiterate that if you accidentally cut your hand or hurt yourself, but you can still wrap the wound and drive or be driven to the emergency room without having to call 911, then you should do so.

However, if someone is having a heart attack, or there's been an assault or murder, call 911. If your cat is stuck up a tree, don't bother calling. If you get a ladder to retrieve it and fall off, by all means have someone call 911. Don't call 911 unless you have actually been robbed, otherwise, you can be charged with misusing the service and eventually earn yourself some jail time.

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