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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

NorCo 911 Chides Man For Reporting Traffic Signal Out

On Saturday afternoon, a local municipal official noticed that a traffic signal was out in Forks Tp, and decided to inform 911 because everyone was running it. That call went unappreciated. "I got bitched for dialing 911 instead of thanks for reporting it. I didn't want to take the time to dial the nonemergency number cuz I was driving and he actually bitched at me for using the 911 number."

I hate to break it to this dispatcher, but when a traffic signal is out, that's an emergency and 911 should be called.

I think most 911 dispatchers know this.

76 comments:

Anonymous said...

In what alternate reality do you live in when is the last time you have seen a police officer fix a traffic light go ahead I'll wait. The answer is never just in case you were holding your breath. So while we tie up a police officer to babysit a traffic light a robbery is happening or a domestic. Hate to break it to you but a traffic light out is not a emergency. If your sitting there thinking well geez what is an emergency let me quickly share a few; Fire, Burglary, Someone not breathing etc. Simply put it is a non emergency call

Anonymous said...

Might be the same 911 dispatcher that gave crap to a council member in a different town. A rabid animal call wasn't an emergency.

Anonymous said...

This is cute.

Bernie O'Hare said...

12:35, I'll let your arrogance speak for itself. God help those who call you.

Anonymous said...

Actually a 911 dispatcher KNOWS this is not an emergency. They are trained to tell anyone who calls to dial the non-emergency number for non-emergencies. If this municipal official had any common sense he would know that. Sounds like he got his feelings hurt for being told he had no common sense. Just as you should feel silly for blogging such nonsense

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have actually checked this out and have several notes in other jurisdictions telling people to call 911 if they see a nonworking traffic signal. That IS an emergency and could result in people getting killed. But it might interrupt your TV show.

Anonymous said...

You are correct, it is not an emergency. That's what the non-emergency number is for. Common sense!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Common sense is to call 911 if you see a situation that could easily result in an accident.

From Hawaii:

"Question: How do I report a messed up traffic signal?

Answer: If the malfunctioning traffic signal is causing a traffic hazard please call 911. If not, it can be reported directly to the Department of Transportation Services."

http://khon2.com/2014/02/05/ask-hpd-reporting-a-messed-up-traffic-signal/

Bernie O'Hare said...

Medford, Mass.

"Report a Traffic Light Problem

Emergency: Call 911 and the Electrical Department will be dispatched"

http://www.medfordma.org/departments/electrical/report-a-traffic-light-problem/

Bernie O'Hare said...

From Baltimore:

"Traffic signs and signals are maintained by either Baltimore County or State Highway Administration. For immediate safety issues, call 911. They will contact the appropriate agency for emergency response."

http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/publicworks/traffic/signal.html

Anonymous said...

The department of motor vehicles (penn dot) driving manual states:
"What are you supposed to do when you approach a traffic light that's out? The answer is, treat it like a four-way stop. Come to a complete stop, and yield the right-of-way to drivers on your right. If the right is clear, continue carefully through the intersection."
Where does it say, stop using your brain and call 911? I agree with the above comments, it's common sense. Police officers do not fix traffic lights, street lights, power lines, etc. All this does is tie up 911 lines for true emergencies.
It's obvious that not everyone is aware of this law.

Anonymous said...

We live in Pennsylvania, this is irrelevant for Forks township. Lol, kudos for trying though.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am well aware of what the PennDOT manual says and am equally aware that people will blow through without stopping. That situation is an emergency in which accidents are very possible. That is why numerous municipalities advise to report it to 911. And when someone does, you don't treat that person like a piece of shit. You handle the call. That is why you are there.

Anonymous said...

We live in Pennsylvania, this is irrelevant for Forks township. Lol, kudos for trying though.

Anonymous said...

If you're talking about the law in pa then why reference other States? Because someone blew a stop? That's like saying, well I got caught with marijuana here in Pennsylvania but Colorado has a law stating it's not illegal, you should reference that law instead. Come on Bernie, I thought you were a little bit smarter than that.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't the municipal official know how to resolve his municipality's issue? I think that is by far more disturbing.

Bernie O'Hare said...

My reference to other jurisdiction is in response to the know-it-all who claimed this clearly is not an emergency. And if I spend enough time, I'll find a Pa jurisdiction advising residents to call 911 if the see a no working traffic signal they consider a safety hazard. Your job is not just to respond to emergencies, but prevent them from happening in the first place.

Anonymous said...

According to PA law, if the traffic light is malfunctioning or inoperable, the ENTIRE intersection is then considered a 4 way stop. This means NO one has the right-a-way at an inoperable light. It doesn't matter if your on a major artery and the intersecting road is a secondary or back road, ALL drivers must stop and treat it as a four way stop sign. Many motorists on the major artery will just drive through the intersection without stopping thinking they have the right-a-way. If the light is out and you just drive through it, it is the same as just driving through a stop sign. If an accident is caused by you by driving through without stopping, you will be deemed at fault. So next time that traffic light is out, stop, before proceeding, the law requires it.

Should an officer be stationed at every stop sign too, In case a senseless driver fails to stop? Since it's a dispatchers job to prevent emergencies in the first place? Lol, you are really a joke. God bless these dispatchers that you are constantly putting down. Many of us could never imagine the TRUE emergencies they have to hear and deal with. Instead you choose to berate them, you truly are a piece of shit

Anonymous said...

"Their job is to not just respond to emergencies, but prevent them from happening in the first place"...how the hell are they supposed to prevent emergencies from happening...go out and fix the lights themselves? And I hope you don't mean respond to the scene themselves...there'll be no one there to watch tv!! Next thing you know, dispatchers will be responsible for preventing terrorist attacks! For god's sake man...traffic lights being out are not a true emergency.

Bernie O'Hare said...

All you are doing is repeating yourself and insulting me. I have provided links to three municipalities stating to call 911. This is common sense except to supervisors who shout "Just die already!" When someone calls.

Bernie O'Hare said...

1:26, This municipal official was not one from Forks but someone passing through. As I understand, a complaint will be filed.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be up to each individual municipality to decide whether or not to dial 911 for a traffic light that's out? If that's the case, then maybe this should be directed at them rather than dispatchers who have nothing to do with the way each municipality is run.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bernie, sounds like each municipality could use some help. Maybe you should get off your ass and do something worthwhile and direct the traffic thru the intersection with malfunctioning traffic lights instead of blogging about things you don't know much about.

Anonymous said...

Ha-ha
Oh here is the wuss that wants to get rid of any comment that tell sit like it is. You really do live down to your reputation. You want so much to attack these dispatchers that save lives you will print anything. They save livers all you do is sit on your as and attack and then quick make the truth go away. Sleep well?

O'Hare everyone knows you have a bug up your ass about the Northampton county 911 center. You will hype up anything you can if it fits your agenda. The fact is the municipal poobah was offended that he was reminded to call the right number. It is sad that when you are in hate mode you will pull anything out of your ass to justify your rage. How about some Canadian references?

Like TV's that exist in all 911 centers. Get a grip. Put your Brown hate to better use.

Reality!

Anonymous said...

Oh my! Bernie, you really got the dispatchers panties all bunched up.
They can be rude. How hard is it for them to say, if it is not an emergency they believe it isn't, to politely tell the caller they need to call the non-emergency number? Not all, but some are just arrogant and apparently have enough free time to argue with you in the early morning hours.
Even if the dispatcher were right in claiming it was not an emergency, if they aren't tied up with an accident it only shows how uncaring they are in not notifying the proper jurisdiction of the dangerous situation. Something they could do faster than someone driving.

Anonymous said...

The real story here is the need for a three-digit, non-emergency number. Perhaps 311 already exists in this area? I don't know.

Anonymous said...

@ 6:17...so what you're saying is that not only are the dispatchers rude, but they don't care AND they don't notify people of the "traffic light malfunction" emergencies as well as the appropriate jurisdictions? Wow, you just proved you don't know your ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to the topic being blogged about here. Maybe you should apply to be a dispatcher so we can all make fun of you when you fail epically within the first 2 weeks! Just another loudmouth with no clue.

Anonymous said...

dispatchers are probably lazy union pukes who are over paid and under worked. There is the source of your problem

Anonymous said...

At 6:42, spoken like a person that couldn't hold a dispatcher's jock. You ARE the weakest link...goodbye

Anonymous said...

I really dislike dealing with Northampton county control (911). It's unfortunate that their diminished professionalism is allowed to be be the rule and not the exception. Their spare time should be spent reading books on professional behavior instead of watching TV. Just as hungry people can be hangry when they don't eat, our dispatchers tend to get langry when their laziness is interrupted.

Anonymous said...

Northampton County Control. Yep, you're from the north. Newsflash toothless, it hasn't been called "control" in years.

Anonymous said...

From the north? North of what?

Anonymous said...

I too have had issues with these people. I called one time to report an accident and was told I should have called the non emergency number since there were no injuries?? The dispatcher I got was so unprofessional I thought why did I even bother calling. They really should train these people to work with citizen's and to help rather then belittle them.

Anonymous said...

AS an experienced 911 dispatcher and supervisor...northampton county 911 or whatever You would like to call is the way under trained ..I have dealt with them personally on several mutual aid calls and boy do they beat to their own drum...I really feel for the residents who depend on such ignorance and insufficient training....in stead if arguing about it spend more time training...a life could depend on it!!!!

Anonymous said...

Dispatching is the low hanging fruit of public safety. While there are good people who work in 911, they are greatly outnumbered by short or obese angry people who are in search of the respect that they have never earned. These are the people who argue the pronunciation of a street name with a citizen during an emergency call or snap at a first responder for asking for clarification. They are unprofessional because they are allowed this concession due to having a stressful job.

Pulease. We all have stressful jobs. But we also have life skills that allow us to remain calm and professional. It's the reason we didn't pick the low hanging fruit.

Now turn off the TV and read a book or two on stress coping mechanisms or professionalism.

Anonymous said...

Maybe as an "experienced 911 dispatcher and supervisor", you should take up the issues you had with the Northampton County 911's admin staff rather than belittling their dispatchers on a blog. Talk about ignorance.

Anonymous said...

Allow me to make all sides angry.

I've had occasion to call the 911 centers in Allentown and Lehigh County numerous times over the years, for both emergency and "non-emergency" calls. Here's my experience:

I begin each "non-emergency" call with the statement that "This is not an emergency call..." and then go on to explain the problem. That immediately makes the dispatcher aware of the nature of the call, and (if they're experiencing a high call volume) they could move quickly to other calls if necessary.

Most times that I've called, the operator has taken all my info and then stated that they will contact the appropriate department immediately so they can handle the issue.

The exception to the above has been after storm events when there is a higher volume of calls. Still, the operators took the information and let me know they'd report it as soon as things slowed down.

When I see something that's potentially hazardous, I view it as my civic duty to make someone aware of the problem. Driving by and assuming someone else is handling it is not an option. I don't have the numbers for each department of each municipality I drive through. I expect the 911 operator to have the proper knowledge as to how to deal with the issue once I call it in, as well as who to call. I like to think we're all on the same team, with a common goal (public safety).

In every case, I was treated courteously and professionally. I'd expect the same treatment no matter what jurisdiction I'm in.

For the incident in question, I would expect that there is a recording of the call. It is very likely that on review, both sides might learn something from it.

Anonymous said...

@ 7:35 well said. However, the biggest issue I see here is that people don't have the balls to come forward after these bad experiences and instead, they make themselves feel better by bitching about it. That doesn't help just like getting an arrogant or rude dispatcher on the phone doesn't help. Everyone wants to play Monday morning quarterback without stepping into the dispatching realm to really see what goes on during a shift. And yes, every job has its stress, but that doesn't mean the stress is the same across all jobs like some of the bloggers on here seem to think. Listening to someone die on the phone is no where near the same stress level as not having a car fixed on time or getting numbers crunched by a specific deadline...and these people are extremely ignorant if they think it is. And as far as the "low hanging fruit" comment that someone posted earlier, maybe they would like to let everyone know what their profession happens to be so that everyone else can judge their profession without ever doing it. There's no excuse for people being rude, arrogant, or belittling someone, but that being said, not all dispatchers are alike...there's good and bad just like in every other profession on the planet. If someone has an issue, then they should take it up with that dispatcher's superiors so that it gets taken care of. People bitching about it on a blog and not doing anything about it won't make the problem go away.

Anonymous said...

Have to hate when someone interrupts the TV show your engrossed in as your lazy butt sucks off the public teat as A 911 dispatcher. Ask your goofy leader as he doesn't have a clue. He is to busy on his knees in front of the county executive.

Anonymous said...

It really does suck when the tv show gets interrupted because certain someone's with the "teat" don't know the difference between what a real emergency is and a traffic light out non emergency.

Anonymous said...

Calling someone "toothless" because they refer to 911 as county control shows the type of little man thinking that comes from failing the police/fire tests multiple times and then settling for a dispatchers job.

Anonymous said...

911 centers recommend that if you do not know if a situation is hazardous, call to be on the safe side. No 911 operator should ever chastise a caller under any circumstances. Because if they do, the next time one sees a hazard, that individual will keep on going and not alert 911. The system works on teamwork with the public.

Anonymous said...

Just saying, but if you are from out of the area, how the hell due you know the non emergency number ? idiots. This place is going to get someone hurt or worse one of these days.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"@ 7:35 well said. However, the biggest issue I see here is that people don't have the balls to come forward after these bad experiences and instead, they make themselves feel better by bitching about it"

The person came forward to me and is filing a complaint. I suspect that what bothers you is that you are embarrassed, as you should be. The nonprofessionalism exhibited in some of the comments from some dispatchers is cause for concern. Fortunately, I believe most dispatchers are very professional.

Anonymous said...

Bingo. Basically, the loads believe that if there are lower call volumes they will have more TV time. What they fail to realize is that lower volumes mean we need fewer people...

It's why we don't want low hanging fruit people making impactful decisions.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, the number of people who must be on shift is set by PEMA, so I understand that there are times when no one calls in but the phones must still be manned. You never know.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"dispatchers are probably lazy union pukes who are over paid and under worked. There is the source of your problem"

This kind of comment is unhelpful. All it does is polarize everyone. This has nothing to do with unions,and they should all thank God they belong to one. The unions still have the health plans that Brown tried unilaterally to change.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"The real story here is the need for a three-digit, non-emergency number. Perhaps 311 already exists in this area? I don't know. "

Excellent point.

Anonymous said...

Norco 911 was to have call takers and dispatchers. But current staff is doing both which is dangerous. To many times fire, ems or police are told to 'hold their radio traffic" because they( call taker/dispatcher ) are on the phone taking a call. Only call takers take the calls, dispatchers answer the radio period! Not both.
Also to many times police are notified of a fire or crash several minutes before fire and ems are dispatched. Why ? Do they send fire and ems out several minutes before pd is notified of a robbery in progress? Piss poor management.

Anonymous said...

Since it seems that people are most easily butt-hurt these days, the complainer's description of being "bitched" is open to interpretation. I would like to hear the recorded conversation before I make an informed decision on whether someone did something wrong.

Anonymous said...

What is the non-emergency number?

Anonymous said...

I called 911 last year to help someone report a stranger's child locked in a running vehicle in Allentown (their purse/phone was in the same locked vehicle so they couldn't call themselves). Unbeknownst to me, since I was near the Allentown/Bethlehem border, my call was mistakenly redirected to Bethlehem's 911 call center. It took nearly an hour for officers to get to the child because they were looking in Bethlehem, even though I clearly stated the vehicle was at an Allentown address. When the dispatcher realized the error, she scolded me for calling Bethlehem's 911 as opposed to Allentown, as if I had a choice in how my call was directed. After the situation was resolved, I called to speak to a supervisor, who listened to the recorded call and determined that the dispatcher's conduct was inappropriate and found her to be at fault for failing to hear that I stated my location as being in Allentown on several occasions. He followed up with their phone carrier (which incorrectly directed my call) and conducted several retraining sessions with the staff and followed up with me afterward, which I found to be extremely professional. I would advise that Northampton official with the complaint to ask a supervisor at the 911 center to listen to the recorded conversation to determine if the dispatcher acted inappropriately, or if the caller was just defensive because he felt the situation was a bigger emergency than the dispatcher did.

LVCI said...

"What is the non-emergency number?"

I kinda think that's the whole point. How is anyone suppose to know each of the numbers for all 5 or 6 municipalities one is driving through. Hell I'd be lucky know the name of the street/road I was on since some of those change names from town to town. Not to mention cross streets.

Anonymous said...

@ Bernie 11:12...coming forward to you doesn't solve the problem. There's nothing you can do other than write about a problem someone has or had. Filing a complaint with the NORCO 911 admin is the only way it will be addressed. There's nothing to be embarrassed about. Their admin has already proven that what YOU say isn't golden and they couldn't give 2 shits about your opinion or the opinion of others commenting throughout this blog or previous blogs. The formal complaint needs to go through appropriate and relevant channels to be taken care of. Calling someone, or a group, out in a public forum won't get the job done...especially when certain parties are t listening.

Anonymous said...

@ 1:46 Exactly...piss poor management!! Dispatchers and call takers should absolutely be separate. The dispatchers shouldn't be answering phones too. That only puts fire/pd/ems in danger.

Anonymous said...

It is true that the hiring practice's out at thee911 center have been screwed up for years. People take tests and are interviewed. The problem is folks whom have scored very high have been denied jobs and low scored people are hired. The excuse is wee evaluate the people. Just so happens that folks hired have connections through fire departments and ems. It is pure insider and subjective favor hiring. County officials including county council have been informed and have done nothing to rock the boat. As a result you get an insular environment of insiders.
Not good!

Anonymous said...

@ 4:07 That's exactly right...they hire and promote through the "buddy buddy system" which only hurts the 911 centers and their ability to help the public. That system promotes lack of training and incompetence!

Anonymous said...

Bernie:
I am commenting as anonymous ( but I believe you know my identity for we have communicated in the past). Anonymous suits my purposes for now but the future is another reality. I have managed 4 - 911 centers as part of a professional career. Using 911 call centers to report a malfunctioning traffic device is a "normal" occurance. TV monitors in said centers is also "normal". They are used without sound and are only tuned to news or weather channels exclusively. No exceptions. The average dispatcher/call taker should be a highly trained employee constantly monitored and evaluated for performance. Not all employees are equal in skills but should not be judged simply because they work for the "government" as somehow inferior beings ..... that is grossly unfair. I am positive that there are good ,competent employees at Norco 911. The problems at Northampton County are "cultural " in nature. The Culture of Northampton County ( wether the leadership is elected Democrat or Republican) is one of systemic Patronage. The present management team that governs the County is by and large ( but not exclusively) composed of political sycophants. I know for a fact that is the reality of the senior management of the 911 operation. That "reality" is at best dangerous at worst potentially disastrous. I will not vote for the incumbent Executive but will his challenger do anything to change the "culture"....... I doubt it. There are ways to "fix" the problems of Northampton County. They are too numerous to mention here but the continuation of the practice of " vacancy factor manipulation" will lead to severe problems for our most vulnerable county residents. When it comes to the 911 operation there is a definitive "fix" . The County should seek to obtain a CALEA certification of its 911 Center. CALEA is the Commision on Law Enforcement Administration . It is an independent organization that uses standards and tests for verifying professionalism of organizations and practices employed in public safety functions including seperate certifications for 911 operations. It is much healthier to resolve problems than to complain about them. It is time for a change in Northampton County . It is "Failed government" archaic in function and a disservice to its residents as well as its employees.

Anonymous said...

@4:07PM,
Did you ever consider that those with a fire or EMS background have some of the skills that may be necessary, already in place when it comes to being a 911 Center employee? Most employers call this "work experience", not patronage.

Anonymous said...

@3:12PM,
Since the county handles all police departments, except the City of Bethlehem, you only need to know 1 non emergency number, 610-759-2600

Bernie O'Hare said...

The dispatchers have returned.

Anonymous said...

The only training the administration at NORCO 911 are interested in is training for their admin staff and supervisors. They don't give a shit about their dispatchers. According to someone on the inside, they haven't had a training class for their dispatchers in years. Pathetic!

Anonymous said...

Since people are asking

Northampton County non emergency (everywhere, but Bethlehem City) 610-759-2200
Bethlehem non emergency 610-865-7187
Lehigh County (everywhere but Alentown and Bethlehem cities) non emergency 610-437-5252
Allentown non emergency 610-437-7751
PSP Dispatch- 610-861-2026 or call county non emergency and they will transfer

and since we are talking about signals being out.
Norfolk Southern Police Comm. 800-453‐2530

Hank_Hill

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks, Hank.

Anonymous said...

I believe there is still in misconception of what 911 is meant for. You dial 911 for in progress emergencies. As stated in your original post the complainer didn't want to take the time to pull over before using their cellphone and find the non emergency number. As being a local municipal worker they should know what the non emergency number is. They should also have the common sense to pull over before calling someone on their cellphone. Distracted drivers cause accidents. Let me explain what takes place when people call 911 for not in progress "emergencies". When you dial 911 your call is prioritized over the non emergency number. A call taker / dispatcher takes your information and puts in a "CAD Call" to go to the proper authority to handle. If you call 911 for a non emergency you are tying up a 911 phone line. People who are having an "emergency" could be waiting till the call taker / dispatcher finishes your call. Their call goes into a queue waiting for the next available person. So when you complain when a call taker tells you should have called the non emergency number remember that someone could be waiting to give a call for a medical/police/fire emergency. It could be your friend or family.

Bernie O'Hare said...

This IS an emergency. I direct your attention to what someone who has managed four 911 centers said: "Using 911 call centers to report a malfunctioning traffic device is a "normal" occurrence."

Anonymous said...

one other item to my prior post. The boroughs of North Catasauqua and Walnutport use LEHIGH COUNTY for dispatch even though they are Northampton County municipalities.

Hank_Hill

Anonymous said...

The person said "normal" occurrence not "emergency" occurrence.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Do you take stupid pills? Seriously. It is very clear that he is saying it is normal for people to call in when they see a malfunctioning traffic signal, regardless of your subjective assessment whether this is an emergency.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have deleted two anonymous personal attacks aimed at me. I identify myself. I decline to host some troll who lacks the basic integrity to say who he or she is.

Anonymous said...

@5:19PM-Not a dispatcher. Just a concerned citizen who likes to get both sides of the story, and is repulsed by people who blame others for their own laziness.

Anonymous said...

I direct you Bernie to someone who has worked in Emergency Services also. Traffic Lights being out is not an emergency. It is a concern that has to be addressed. It is low on priority compared to someone having a heart attack, a domestic, a robbery in progress etc.. Do you think we should give everything the same priority? If that is the case then a lot of people would be dead. You didn't address the fact that the person you spoke to was irresponsible in by not pulling over looking for the non emergency number. Oh by the way there is a 3 digit number its called 411...

Bernie O'Hare said...

You must still be to taking stupid pills because 411 is Directory Assistance.

Anonymous said...

I used to work as a dispatcher for norco. Unfortunately I have heard numerous people yelling at callers some due to them dialing 911 for a non emergency. The union in this case is bad for most of these workers because "some" are incredibly lazy. My advice for the original caller would be to call during the day and speak to management about the call. Now don't get me wrong there are great people who are fantastic at their job and due to understaffing and "some" lazy people they get frustrated and turn over is a huge problem there.

Anonymous said...

411 to look up the non emergency number.

Anonymous said...

7:57pm-
In addition to my earlier post I also wanted to mention that some if not all upper tier management are close friends with a dispatcher or multiple ones. So for instance say this original caller was upset and called into complain to the management well depending on who the dispatcher was via that close friend they would sweep it under the rug and do nothing. However, if you are not liked by these upper tier individuals you get written up sound fair Bernie? Definitely not.