"9-1-1 what is your emergency" Boomed the professional sounding voice on the other end of the line.
"Peanuts in the basement" Is the reply from the sweetest little boy voice ever heard.
"Excuse me what did you say", that booming voice again.
"Peanuts in the basement you gotta hurry", came the childish banter. "Who is this? Is this a joke"? Boomed the voice.
"Don't you know that 9-1-1 is not for playing jokes it is ONLY for real emergencies?" That booming annoyed voice seemed to ramble forever.
"But Mister, Mister, You gotta listen Mister PEANUTS IN THE BASEMENT AND YOU HAFFTA GET HERE FAST" the childish banter quickly spewed at the operator
"Little boy what is your name?" came the voice
"I am Jared Paul Bestest Boy of All." "Who are you?"
"I am Ben and I need to speak to your mommy." To that the urgent little voice responded
"No, no, no, no, mister you gotta come to my house I locked the door and peanuts in the basement."
"Is peanut your kitty cat buddy?" asked Ben
"OOOOOHHHHH NO peanut is not my cat Tiger is my cat Peanut is locked in the basement!" With that the phone disconnected.
As I came out of the upstairs bathroom I heard a knocking sound. I went down the steps to investigate. What I found was my grandmother pleading with my 4-year-old son to let her out of the basement. He had obviously locked her in the basement teasingly and realized that the old slide bolt was easier to lock than it was to unlock.
"Jared, Jared where are you? Jared unlock the door for peanut. Jared Paul where are you? JARED?"
"Momaw are you ok?" I called through the door.
"Yes but that Jared has locked me in here and then he took off." Replied my grandmother.
I opened the door for her and we both set out to find Jared who is pretty crafty for a 4 year old.
Jared was afraid that he'd be in trouble for what he had done got gone. In my grandma's house the door that leads to the basement is almost halfway between the TV room and the only bedroom downstairs. The door from the TV room leads outside onto the patio. My grandmother took that route to try and find Jared to tell him she was ok while I took the route leading to the downstairs bedroom where Jared likes to hide and play video games.
As I entered the bedroom there sat my innocent little angel on the floor with his video game controller in his hand and a look on his face that said I didn't do anything mommy I have been right here the whole time. Just then the phone rang.
"Hello" I answered the phone
"M'am this is Ben I am an operator here at Tazewell County 9-1-1 Emergency Service."
My reply was "yeah ok, how can I help ya?" Ben then proceeded to tell me
"M'am I just received a call from your telephone number."
In an agitated voice I replied "A call from this number? You must be mistaken. There is NO emergency here."
"M'am this is no mistake these phone numbers populate automatically." Ben replied,
"I don't care what your numbers do, no one from here called you, THERE IS NO EMERGENCY!" I proclaimed loudly into the phone I mean he was accusing my little angel of being mean.
Without ever changing his voice Ben tried again to explain to me that the phone call came from my number, " As I said miss the numbers come up automatically. It was either a small child or someone playing a prank. This is very serious M'am 9-1-1 is ONLY for serious emergencies." Now I was really getting upset I just wanted to get off of the phone and take care of the situation between Jared and his peanut.
"Sir I am well aware what 9-1-1 is for and I am telling you" at this point Ben interrupted me,
M'am do you have a small child in the home?"
"Yes sir", I replied, "I have a 4 year old son, but he has been taught that 9-1-1 is only for emergencies!"
"M'am the voice on the line was that of a small child, I answered the call myself the call came from 555-555-5555, this is your number isn't it?"
"Yes sir it is, but I am telling you" At this point I hear another phone pick up and my grandmother says "Heather Dawn did you find Jared Paul?"
"Yes", I replied "But this, this, pain in the 'ugh, typical always gotta be right cause I am a male, operator on the phone says Jared called 9-1-1."
"Hello Sir" said my grandmother "what is going on here?" Ben again started to explain to my grandma
"M'am I simply tried to explain to the young lady that there was a 9-1-1 call from this number by a small child who kept insisting Peanuts in the basement and you gotta hurry mister, and then he disconnected the phone, and we are required by law to verify the validity of all 9-1-1 calls when they are disconnected."
My grandmother started laughing and said to the dispatcher, "I am Peanut, my little grandson has always called me Peanut. We were playing hide and seek. I hid in the basement and he locked the door from the outside. He could not unlock it and I had no other way to get out."
"Oh ok so M'am are you ok, are you hurt?" "Do I need to dispatch an ambulance?" Asked Ben with urgency in his voice.
"No sir I am fine." She replied, "but let me tell you we have taught Jared what an emergency is and that he is only to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. We taught him the number to 9-1-1 because his mother is a diabetic and I am 82 years old so we thought that he needed to know about 9-1-1 and how it works." Now Ben finally understood the situation he said
"M'am you all have done the right thing by teaching him to dial 9-1-1 if there is an emergency, and it is safe to say that we know he knows the number!" Ben said with a chuckle.
"Yes", my grandmother replied, "When he locked the basement door and then couldn't unlock it, he couldn't find anyone to help him get me out, so he called 9-1-1 because to Jared Paul locking his peanut in the basement was a serious emergency. Finally his mother came downstairs and that is when she heard me knocking and she let me out."
"Okay," said Ben "So there was an emergency but now everything is ok right?"
"Yes sir that is right," said my grandmother, "Thank you for calling back to check on us though."
"No problem" said Ben "just doing my job. You have a nice day now."
"You too, bye bye" said my grandmother.
After hanging up the phone, Peanut' came into the bedroom where Jared and I were. She came through the door laughing and shaking her head, "That little boy" she said. I was telling Jared that he should not have called 9-1-1 because we didn’t really have an emergency.
He started to cry and said "I was all awone mommy, where was you? I couldn't find you and Peanut was scared in that basement all awone and I couldn't get her out. I just called 9-1-1 for help to wesue my wonderful, beautiful, awesome Peanut." Well who could argue with that?
We did however sit down with Jared and discussed the proper way to handle emergencies and we ALL decided that Jared should only call 9-1-1 after he has made sure no one else is home to help him with his emergency. As for Ben and the rest of the 9-1-1 units they will probably never forget the Peanuts in the basement