"Fire, police or ambulance?"

For the first time in my life, I made a 111 call last night. The neighbours across the street had been having a party (no, not the elderly couple with the nice garden, next door to them), and at about 1.30 am, once the music had finally died down a bit and we’d got to sleep, we were woken up by a woman screaming, followed by a lot of shouting. I admit my first thought was just irritation that I’d been woken up again, but as the shouting and screaming carried on, and I clearly heard a few shouts of “Leave her alone!” I started getting a bit worried.

I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t leap up and call the police straight away. I knew I should, but a lifetime of being told “Only call 111 if it’s a *real* emergency, otherwise you’re wasting the police’s time” (doesn’t help that my mother worked for the police, so I grew up hearing about all the stupid things people call 111 for) was making me second-guess myself, thinking maybe just a bit of shouting wasn’t bad enough to bother the police about and I’d just look stupid if I called them. Plus of course MrPloppy and I discussed the fact that all the neighbours must have heard the screaming, and surely *someone* would have called the police.

But in the end (probably only a minute or two after the screaming started, but it felt much longer), the guilt and worry got too much for me, and I started imagining the headlines the next day “Woman Murdered in Christchurch: Neighbours Ignore Screams” (remembering all to well the examples from my psyc textbook of people being assaulted in public and being ignored because everyone assumed someone else would be doing something about it), so I got up and rang 111.

New Zealand’s 111 system has been criticised in the past, but I was very impressed. The call was answered almost instantly (in less than one ring), and the voice on the other end was calm and clear. When I asked for the police, again there was less than one ring before it was picked up by another calm clear voice. I told her where I was and that there was screaming and shouting outside, and she said that an incident had already been logged (so someone else *did* do something about it!) and that a police car was on the way. A minute or so later the police obviously arrived, because everything went quiet outside (we’d gone back to bed by then – it was too cold to sit peering out the window being nosey). Which is very fast response time, given that it was Friday night (well, Saturday morning), a busy time for the police, and that we live in a (theoretically) quiet suburb, so it’s not like there would have been a police car patrolling the area.

So that was our big adventure for the night. Of course, now I’m totally shattered from lack of sleep, and I’ve got to get organised to go into town soon for a pre-booksale meetup…

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  1. Whoa! You should be proud you called, even if it was redundant.

    We were awakened at 4:00 a.m. a few weeks ago, but it was only extremely loud music, not something dangerous sounding. After Tech Man went over and complained to someone at the house the next day, was haven’t had any more trouble. *crosses fingers* Still, we kept expecting someone would call the police or go over there, but no one did.

    I’ve only called the emergency number once, when I busted open my car’s gas tank by driving stupidly. (Dont’ ask.) The fire department came and applied some substance to the spill that solidified it, then they swept it away with a push broom. It was really cool.

  2. Good on you for calling. It’s even better to know that someone else had too.

    We were at the Kimi-in-laws a while ago when we noticed a huge fire in the distance. It *could* have been a rubbish fire, but it really was a big one, and in a suburban area. It wasn’t all that long after our house fire, so we were rather sensitive about it. Mr Kimi phoned 111 that time. We never found out the outcome.

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