What do a Florida reporter and a resident who called 911 have in common? They were both in mortal danger because of one 911 dispatcher. The reporter survived the terrifying encounter. The poor soul who called 911? He was not so lucky. When you find yourself in dire straits and call for emergency medical or police assistance, the last thing you should have to worry about is whether or not the person on the other end of the line is even paying attention.
Unfortunately, oblivious dispatcher Shauna Justice wasn't when a man suffering a heart attack called for help. Justice (who later admitted to texting while making a trainee handle the call) was responsible for drivers reporting to the wrong address. The man died before they arrived on the scene to potentially provide life-saving measures. But that's only half of the story.
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Her boss -- and Justice herself -- were apparently highly apologetic after the incident. Justice was suspended from her job, which initially seems like an appropriate call, but what happened after that proves it might have been too little too late. It seems like maybe Justice should never have been in such a sensitive job in the first place.
When an area reporter showed up at her door, Justice, by all accounts, apparently snapped. The reporter was there to ask questions about the dispatcher's recent suspension. Justice could have slammed the door and carried about her day after issuing a firm "no comment." But instead, she pulled a gun and took aim for the reporter's face, an act for which she was later arrested.
Working as a 911 operator is a serious and sensitive position. In my mind, there's always been an extremely rigorous vetting process when it comes to hiring dispatchers. How did this woman slip through the cracks? You don't go from model employee to slacker and gun-wielding rage-aholic overnight. The way we hire these folks needs to be re-examined. Given what they deal with every day on the phone, we should make sure they've got the resources needed to cope with the stress of the job.
Do you think it was only a matter of time until Justice snapped or that she was a one off?
Image via Mollenborg/Flickr