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Problem with 911

This letter has a dual purpose. One is to praise and the other to complain out of concern for me and my fellow Tipton Countians.

I pulled into my driveway at about 11 a.m. last Thursday to find flames licking out a window of my neighbor’s home. The Covington Fire Department, including the chief and a city official responsible for the department, police department officers, Covington Public Works staff and Covington Electric staff, were at the scene within four minutes of the call to 911. All are to be commended for their prompt and professional response.

I cannot say the same for 911 staff. When I called 911, the number rang four or five times with no answer. I was standing in swirling smoke trying to hear over the sound of breaking glass and flames beginning to run up the wall of the home. 

Then my phone started ringing. It was 911 calling me back to find out what I wanted. I reported the fire and location. The dispatcher who answered the phone kept pestering me with questions. I answered what I could all the time telling her that it was much more important to get emergency responders on the way as the information asked for had to do with who lived in the house, were they home, etc. There was nothing that could not be ascertained after the dispatch of emergency services.

The 911 staff called me a second time to get my name and phone number. I had already given my name and I apparently mistakenly assumed that the 911 system would record a number when someone called in. I had after all been called by them at the number that was being asked for.

It seemed that it took less time for the fire department, et al, to arrive and take action than it did for 911 to answer the phone. I am advised that there are three operators on duty in the 911 center at any given time and I had to be called back. This raises serious questions and concerns.

Someone explain to all of us who pay for and count on this service why the initial call was not answered so that services could be promptly deployed. How many times has this happened? How many times does 911 call someone back because they did not answer an initial call? Why did someone not stay on the line to get all needed information after services had been dispatched? 

Having been an administrator responsible for staff manning a 24-7 operations/dispatch center, I am not ignorant of the issues and problems confronting 911. My center had only one operator on duty at a time. Not three. It all comes down to adequate, up front and ongoing training and hands on supervision of staff who fill such a crucial role. The other key ingredient is holding individuals accountable for their performance.

We citizens have the right to expect competent performance of duties by those whom we pay to protect us from harm. This is especially true for 911 as that operation is the first first responder. Every second is crucial in responding to an emergency. Usually, lives may be at stake. From personal experience, and until proven otherwise, I have a hard time believing that my experience is an anomaly. 

Kudos to our first responders. Not so for 911.


Steve Holt



Spay/neuter costs a lot

This story has a reason why there are so many unwanted dogs and cats running around and why I think there could be a better solution that could help lower the cat and dog population and the amount of poor animals that are euthanized. 

My mom wanted to get her two small dogs neutered so I went to two different veterinarian clinics to see who much it would cost. I was really surprised to the answers that I got. One clinic said it would cost $91 for two shots. The other said it would cost $140. This was just for one dog. When a person is in a fixed income or not, it is a high price to pay. 

There should be a way to lower the price so pets can be neutered or spayed for everybody one week per year where the price could be cheaper. Then I think there would be a big difference in stray and unfortunate animals to be put to sleep. Most people can’t afford to pay that much money. 

I know there was a payment plan or some other solution that would help people get this done more often. 

This is just my idea and if there is any other way to get this done any input would be appreciated. 


Rick Cantrell


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