Attention Charleston: Is 911 missing the call?


This story came to us, not as a result of a tragedy that had us scratching our heads and saying “what if” but a true story of a call to 911 that had us scratching our heads and saying “did this really happen?” 911 is an emergency response option when citizens identify or witness issues that maybe of criminal intent or may put others in harm’s way. It is path of protection from the dangers all around us.

This partnership between law enforcement agencies and common citizens has been a back bone of our society for hundreds of years and continues to provide the protections that grant us our personal freedoms.

Here is the story. We will let you decide.

One sunny Saturday afternoon, a car was driving in the left lane on the southbound side of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge heading toward downtown Charleston when the passenger side back tire blew sending debris all over the highway and finding a car in the left lane with only three tires.  A driver one lane over to the right avoided the debris as best they could and then called 911.

When this individual began to explain the situation and location, they were transferred with the indication this was a Mount Pleasant issue, not Charleston.

After the transfer, this individual told the situation once again and when asked where they were, this caller explained they were close to downtown Charleston on the southbound side. At this point, the caller was transferred again back to Charleston.

Finally, the third dispatcher took the call and asked questions relevant to the situation including:

  • Are you at the scene of the accident? – Response:  “No, I avoided the debris and kept driving since I was on the bridge.”
  • Was it a two door or four door car? – Response:  “I don’t know.  I was at least two car lengths behind looking forward and then after the incident trying to avoid debris from the tire.”
  • Can you describe the driver? – Response:  “I have no idea if it was a male or female.  I was behind and a lane over.”

After they thanked this person and promised to dispatch a driver, the caller hung up and tried to find a way to get the phone out of emergency mode.


This situation had the potential to be very dangerous with loose rubber on the highway and a car with three tires trying to get off the bridge on a very busy Saturday afternoon.

Did jurisdiction play into why there was confusion?  Yes it did, but the role of a dispatcher is immediate response and safety of those that may be in potential danger.

What are your thoughts on this situation or one you have experienced?

Categories: 911, Charleston, law enforcement, Mount Pleasant, safety, South Carolina | Leave a comment

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