Dispatchers aren’t paid to scold those in distress

Donna Reneau likely will need to find another line of work. It is my strong belief, certainly, that she should.

An Arkansas woman drowned when floodwaters overwhelmed her motor vehicle. She dialed for help and got a Fort Smith, Ark., Police Department dispatcher on the phone. The dispatcher, Reneau, said the department was being overwhelmed with emergency calls during a terrible storm in the region and that the caller, Debra Stevens, would have to wait for assistance.

Stevens begged Reneau to help her. Reneau’s response was to tell the woman to “shut up” and to scold her for driving into too-high water.

Holy crap, man!

Stevens drowned in her car waiting for help to get to her.

As for the conversation that ensued between the stricken motorist and the dispatcher, it has been recorded for the nation to hear. Reneau is no longer on the Fort Smith PD force; she resigned to, I must presume, “pursue other interests.”

I don’t know whether the delay was a direct result of the dispatcher’s crude, rude and crass behavior. The point, though, is that emergency dispatchers are hired and trained to deliver assistance and to deliver comfort to those who call for help.

From what I have seen and heard of what Donna Reneau delivered to the late Debra Stevens, she failed to do her job.

I see some intensive re-training for all dispatchers in northwest Arkansas in the future.

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