Emergency? Response in New Orleans
Mayor Nagin has been quite clear as to the difficulties that the city is having with maintaining the infrastructure necessary to support the population of New Orleans and that returning residents in some flooded neighborhoods may receive little to no support for some time to come. Well, he is not kidding around. Saturday night a car hit my house in Carrollton. The car was speeding and hit the house hard enough to shake the entire structure. Immediately after my house was hit I heard screaming on the street outside. Before doing anything else, I grabbed the phone and dialed 911. The 911 operator quickly took my information and asked if anyone was injured. I told her I did not know. She said the police would be on their way.
Luckily when I went outside to check on the situation, no one was injured. The car was speeding and managed to glance off my house and take out a power pole. A young person was driving and the screaming was from my neighbors who are related to the driver. However, since I had damage to my home and our neighborhood had one less operating power pole, I thought a police report was still in order. I waited about 20 minutes and called the NOPD a second time to check on the status of the patrol car that was supposedly sent to my house. The operator informed me that I was still in the system and an officer would be dispatched to my house. After waiting an additional 40 minutes I called the NOPD one more time to check on the status of the dispatched officer and received the same story. After two hours had past since the time of the incident an officer finally responded to the accident. He did an excellent and efficient job and was courteous to everyone involved; overall very professional. Also, strangely enough, an ambulance also came to the accident scene at the same time (two hours after the accident). They promptly left when it was clear that no one was injured.
This entire incident was quite an eye-opener. It does appear that the NOPD may be overwhelmed and not capable of responding in a timely manner. Hopefully, in my case, this was the NOPD making a judgement call based upon the low probability that someone was seriously injured. However, if you are living in New Orleans, you would be wise to have a back-up plan to 911 in case the emergency response is not capable of living up to your immediate needs and expectations. Finally, if the city is having difficulties meeting its emergency response needs, the state and Federal governments should be providing law enforcement and emergency medical services to supplement those of the NOPD until such a time as the city is fully staffed and functioning and capable of supporting its own emergency services.