HR Strange But True!
August 27, 2004

Sleeping on the job is never a good thing. Especially when you're handling 911 emergency calls. And it happens in the middle of a call.

But that's exactly the accusation being made against Louis Gerber, a 911 call-taker for Anne Arundel County, Maryland. The Baltimore Sun, which obtained an audiotape of the call, reports that Gerber fell asleep and snored into the phone in the middle of county resident Patricia Berg's report of a possible prowler outside her home. On the tape, Berg can be heard asking, "Hello?" a number of times, to no response. Finally, Gerber is heard saying, "Hello ... yes?"

"I was just wondering if you were still there," Berg said.

"What's the problem?" Gerber asked.

"I've already told you," an exasperated Berg replied. "You don't remember me telling you what was wrong?"

Gerber didn't answer. Instead, after a few seconds of "feverish typing," he confirmed the address she had given at the beginning of their conversation, then passed the call along to a dispatcher, according to the Sun.

The newspaper cites police records showing that Gerber's nap delayed the call by 1 minute and 42 seconds.

A county police spokesman told the Sun for an August 5 article that police officials were looking into the incident and considering whether to take disciplinary action against Gerber, one of 78 civilian employees who answer phones or dispatch units at the county's 24-hour emergency call center.

"We're trying to find out why this happened and to take steps to ensure that something like this doesn't happen in the future." said the spokesman, Lt. Joseph E. Jordan.

Jordan noted that police were dispatched to Berg's home and found no prowlers there.

Source: Baltimore Sun (Registration required. At the bottom of the story is a link for listening to a recording of the 911 call.)

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