The Soundtrack of Emergency

Friday, March 19, 2010


Whether it's cable, local or tabloid television, producers love to play recordings of real 911 calls whenever they can. It may make dramatic television but some state's legislators argue it's an invasion of privacy for the victims and families captured on tape. Sonny Bransfield, executive director of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, explains why his state has drafted legislation to keep the recordings private.

Comments [4]

Dave Morgan from Newport Oregon

The fact that emergency first-responders go out on a call is a public event. The public has a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent. Names of those in an accident or receiving aid or rescue is also public information. The medical condition of the victim(s) is tightly regulated by federally mandated privacy controls. The price of a free society where information is not unreasonably controlled by the state is the price we pay for democracy. Any family traumatized by an accident should turn off their radio/tv/internet/newspaper and focus on their loved ones. The fact an accident/attack occurred has instructional value for the public. It enlightens the public on how to not get hurt themselves, or if "normal" precautions don't work, why, and what's a new approach to safety in a particular instance.

Mar. 26 2010 11:37 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Doesn't seem to be that Alabama has made a bad decision, here, but why talk of federal legislators? Seems like 9-1-1 systems are more locally controlled than school boards, beyond the enabling legislation. Come on, what about state's rights?

Mar. 25 2010 05:48 PM
Jan Hames from Austin, TX

As my son and I returned from church this morning, we had an immediate initial response of dismay to the segment on "privatizing" emergency 9-1-1 calls. When we heard County Commissioner Bransfield explain that proposed Alabama law is explicitly designed ONLY to keep the media (and other communicators) from sensationalizing desparate calls from citizens in horrific circumstances, we changed our minds. Legislation that enforces civility as a means of protecting the private citizen is far too rare. Now if only our federal legislators would take a page (written, of course), from their fellow Alabaman public servants!

Mar. 21 2010 12:44 PM
Carol Glassman from NYC

Please Brooke, SEPTEMBER 11th is now always referred to as "nine eleven". Emergency calls are
"nine one one" calls. Please don't mix them up.

I prepared myself to hear nine eleven calls (I couldn't imagine that they would be played now). It was something else.

Mar. 20 2010 11:30 PM

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