Tuesday, 14 August 2012

"911, what's your emergency?"

Have you ever found yourself in an emergency situation? One that you can't handle yourself so you need to call the professionals - ambulance, police, fire brigade?

I have, but because I was alone with my older brother, he was the one to call the authorities. We were home alone and suddenly I looked up and saw a man covered in blood standing in my hallway. My brother had let him in because he had come to our kitchen window begging for help. The people trying to kill him were outside and started banging on our windows, screaming for us to let them in. Seamus called the police (although an ambulance arrived too) and instructed me to run around the house making sure every window was secured. I was terrified, naturally, but my brother was the one to deal with the emergency and I just followed his orders.

Tonight, I faced an emergency situation on my own. I went to get chicken nuggets for dinner - because I'm 8 years old - and on the way, saw what I thought was a fender bender at the roundabout ahead. I moved into the right hand lane to go around but the two cars in front of me didn't move. The drivers were watching the activity beside us.

Two guys were standing at the driver's door of a Commodore. I watched as the two guys sauntered back to their car when suddenly one guy bolted back to the Commodore and tried to open the door. The driver reefed it closed again but didn't get it locked in time and the young man leaned in and started bashing the driver. Immediately, my brain screamed at me to do something! I picked up my phone to call '000' (the national emergency number here in Australia. Suddenly, and I wish I was making this up, my brain frantically argued, 'no, no! Call 911!! This is a real emergency!' Well done, Hollywood. Well done.
Thankfully, common sense prevailed and I called '000'.

As the phone was ringing, I got out of my car to go intervene. I don't know what I intended to do. I'm 5'6" and around 60kg but I couldn't do nothing! All of a sudden I noticed that the ringing phone was getting quieter. My fancy car's bluetooth phone system had my call and if I left the side of my car, I would not be able to summon help. So I began screaming: "Stop! Stop hitting him! Leave him alone! Just stop!!"

Finally a calm voice on the other end asked, 'Police, fire or ambulance?' I forgot they would do that. I thought the person answering would be immediately able to help. In a panicked voice I hope to never hear again, I pleaded for the police and gave her the suburb and state I was in. She put me through. By this stage, the man from the Commodore had half been dragged, half got out to defend himself.

The phone rang. The operator said she'd try another number. The phone rang again. The operator tried another number.

I watched helplessly as the attacker started sparring towards the Commodore driver. He raised his hands to defend himself. Then the attack got more vicious and he lunged towards the driver, punching wildly. The driver, panicked and trying to back away, tripped, landing on his back beside his rear tyre. The phone continued ringing. I continued screaming at him to stop! But he didn't. He leaned over the driver and began punching him repeatedly. The phone continued ringing. I tried again to make my way towards the incident, thinking I could run back to my car or scream my location to the police officer when they finally answered.

Finally a man from one of the cars that had obviously began to build up behind us came to the rescue. I couldn't hear him but I continued screaming, urging him to stop. I realised I needed details so I took this opportunity to take down the number plates of both cars using my phone. The attacker eventually let up and sauntered back to his car. Then seriously, both cars drove away. I know, right? Madness.

I considered telling the operator I didn't need the police anymore but I decided I should at least report what I had seen. And I was connected. The police officer I spoke to said I did the right thing. She insisted it was better that I wasn't able to leave the side of my car to intervene as much as I wanted to. Despite her assurances, I feel like I was useless. I know it could have been very dangerous and I could have been hurt but I really wish I was able to have done more. The officer was also impressed that I had taken the details of both cars. Unfortunately, due to the dark and the positioning of the cars, I wasn't able to identify the make or model of the second car. It was just a black 4WD that I didn't immediately recognise like I could with the Commodore.

So all things considered, did I do the right thing? I know what I did was right, per se. Sitting back and doing nothing would be wrong. But how did I really handle the emergency?

Firstly, I momentarily went to call '911'. That shows a clarity of thinking and presence of mind, right? Can you say 'panic'?

Secondly, I couldn't make my brain work enough to turn my car's bluetooth system off to enable me to make the phone call while simultaneously breaking up the fight. Between three huge men. But still! It's the course of action I wanted to take.

Thirdly, was that desire to intervene a mistake? If I was able to run over like my instinct demanded what would have happened to me? The likelihood is nothing other than some choice insults but the possibility ranges from damage to my property to serious injury to my person.

Fourthly, I thought about gathering evidence. I had my iPhone - as does much of the population - and what tools did I choose to use? The notepad. Seriously. I typed the number plates of both cars as a note.  When I got home, after I finished crying and blubbering about how much I hate the world, shaking and trying to ease my headache, Dad asked me if I'd taken any photos. Err... no. Why not? I clearly remember thinking 'Take note of what these people look like. Remember the scene. Focus on as much detail as possible." Or... I could have taken a photo. Why didn't I think of that?

Just take a second to consider how you should react in an emergency.

Remember to stay calm, make keeping yourself safe your main priority, focus on getting help and concentrate on obtaining and/or remembering as much as you can for future reference.

Miss SAMawdsley xx

  • Have you ever had to use your national emergency number?
  • How do you think you have previously coped with an emergency?
  • If you've never been faced with an emergency situation, do you think you would be ok?


  1. I think you did rather well. I must say though, I’m glad you were effectively tethered to your car.

  2. yikes girl!! You can only do what you can I say :)) brave

    1. Thanks. I did as much as I could, considering, I guess. And they have my details if they need a witness too. xx

  3. Not quite the same urgency- but my neighbors were having a domestic for hours!! I chose to ignore and stay inside. Did the school run and they were still at it when I got home. By this time the girls mother was there helping her leave and the guy had gone. Then he came back and the mother started screaming "someone help. Call the police" so I did. It rang out!!!!!!
    15 mins later I get a call back asking what was wrong. The guy had bashed the girl, done a skid and nearly hit all the cars in the driveway and left by then. Oh and they were already aware of the situation. No cops showed up and the girls mum drove her to the hospital.
    I was like WTF!!!!

    1. That's crazy! I really was horrified with how long the phone call took but at least I eventually got through!

      I was calling the emergency number. There was an emergency happening right in front of me. And I know there is a police station about 2km down the road. The cops could have been there to arrest somebody or at least safely intervene! I know it's not the fault of the police officers. I think they themselves do a fantastic job. Sadly, resources and personnel are overstretched. I think you did the right thing, Aonymous! xx

  4. bloody incredible fortitude and actions today! No doubt the info u got will result in charges. Great job Constable Sassy!

  5. Hehe. I love u still don't know it's me when I'm anonymous. How do I not be anonymous??

  6. Many people wouldn't act, would say "not my problem", there's been instances where passersby get injured. Pretty sure that they should redirect 911 to 000 (if they don't already).

  7. I think you did very well under the circumstances!

    To Anonymous, you can select your identity below the comment box "Comment as:"

  8. How are you coping? Ive been through a very, very similar situation, and I was out of commission for a few days afterward. If you wanna chat about it, i'll be on FB. *hug*

  9. And yes, PublicSavant, now in Australia if you dial 911, you will be re-directed to 000 automatically. Too many people like our blonde author here...