Police arrested a Florida woman for allegedly dialing 911 emergency services because she was out of beer.
According to WFLA-TV, an arrest affidavit indicated that 58-year-old Jennifer Roberts called 911 twice, once just after noon and again just before 4pm, complaining of a medical emergency. The affidavit states that Roberts says she was thirsty.
After the second emergency call, paramedics arrived to find Roberts was intoxicated. The report indicates that Roberts has a history of calling 911 for non-emergency situations. In a period of time spanning less than four months, police have attributed as many as 28 non-emergency 911 calls to the Florida woman.
One of the biggest and most obvious problems with people calling 911 for non-emergency issues is that they are tying up the lines for people who are actually calling the number for actual life-threatening problems.
Imagine that you are in a “gun free zone” when a bad guy with a gun comes in and starts opening fire. You run and try to find cover, while quickly trying to call 911 on your cell phone. However, because 911 operators are having to answer calls about thirsty residents, who have run out of beer, you may be placed on hold until the next available operator is available.
The emergency response service is there to respond to actual emergencies, not for adult beverage delivery.
Yet Roberts is not alone in allegedly abusing her 911 privileges.
In 2017, a Waco, TX woman called 911, complaining that McDonald’s had taken to long to get her an order of chicken nuggets in the driver thru. When she refused to move out of the drive thru lane, the restaurant dialed 911 themselves, leaving the situation tying up two emergency lines and wasting the time of the responding officers.
In 2009, a Fort Pierce, FL woman called 911 because McDonald’s had run out of chicken nuggets.
Other frivolous 911 calls of the past include a man who called emergency services because a Subway sandwich shop had not put mayonaise or mustard on his sandwich, a man who was upset about being told to do the laundry at his house, a man who couldn’t get a cab to come pick him up in a timely manner, and a woman who called 911 to have police respond to a group of black men that she saw who were barbecuing at a park in Oakland, California.
911 operators have to deal with tens of thousands of non-emergency calls, including pranks, each year.
Why it’s important to realize that 911 is there for anyone to call who feels that they are experiencing an emergency of some kind, it’s also important to realize that there are alternative numbers for non-emergency situations.