‘911. What’s your emergency?’
By Brenda L. Shelkey
Every year Emergency Services field 911 calls that don’t fit the emergency standards put in place to assist people in true emergency situations. Adults have been known to call 911 and ask, "My cat is stuck up in a tree. Can you come get it out?" If adults don’t know the correct use of 911, how can a child know what constitutes an emergency?Recently, Underwood Elementary kindergartners got the chance to learn some emergency services etiquette. Their teacher, Deb LeRoy got a little help from West River Telecom representative Linda Terfehr. A natural storyteller, Terfehr told the tale of the Willis family. Through the story of Willy and Lily Willis, she explained the different ways families use telephone etiquette or manners to communicate with each other and get help with the every day needs like calling the phone company, the clinic, or the grocery store for information or for help. The children were familiar with talking to parents and visiting with grandparents and friends on the phone. Their knowledge of technology and dialing Memory Dial 1 or 2 to reach a grandparent was an indication that they are miles ahead of some adults in their understanding of technology. But as the seven children listened to the adventures of Lily and Willy, and responded, it was obvious that they all knew about calling 911. "But how do we know when it’s the right time to dial 911?" Terfehr asked the group of kindergartners. The answers were interesting and varied. No, it wasn’t a good time to call 911 if a brother or sister took a favorite toy or slammed fingers in the door. Yes, if the house was on fire or if Grandpa was having chest pains or a family member was lying on the floor and wouldn’t wake up.