Letter: Columbus should be thankful for 911 excellence

From: Greg Jones


Columbus and Bartholomew County provide a high level of 911 response that residents may sometimes take for granted. Twice in the last four years, I have had personal experience with how quickly and professionally our emergency calls received response.

In contrast, a recent experience in a similar-size town in southern Indiana demonstrated slow and unprofessional conduct. I was in a church attending a Christmas Eve service when a member needed immediate medical attention. A family member called 911 from his cellphone, gave the address and remained on the line to provide guidance.

At this point, I went outdoors to wait in the parking lot to direct the ambulance in from the street. Knowing there was a fire station less than a mile away, I expected to hear sirens fairly quickly, as would be typical in Columbus. (I have since learned that the fire department in this other community does not respond to this type of call.) After a much longer wait than I expected, a police car turned down the street, not running lights or siren. I waved both arms in the air and pointed to the church as he drove by. He did turn around and very briefly glanced at me as I was still gesturing frantically, and the police officer drove by again. He did not stop and ask me what was wrong. This is an obvious example of unacceptable behavior by any police officer in this situation, and especially one who was not on an active run.

About 15 minutes later, I did hear sirens approaching, and as they got closer I realized they went to the church next door. A different family member ran across the yard between the churches to let them know that they were at the wrong church. Once they finally arrived at the right church, they were professional and provided the care needed. Thankfully during the entire ordeal, there was a doctor from the congregation taking care of the gentleman in need.

It is obvious that this other community does not have the same level of integration between first responders as Columbus and Bartholomew County. All of our EMS is handled by an appropriate government agency and all of those agencies work together to provide a high level of service.

Additionally, our first responders know our streets and neighborhoods, because minutes spent searching for an address can mean the difference between life and death, making that knowledge critical.

Our elected officials need to continue to provide the high level of service we experience, and avoid bringing in providers that are not local and, more importantly, do not know the area.

I am grateful the balance between saving dollars and saving lives is understood in this area.