TMI - please just stick to the facts

I was thinking this morning about TMI (too much information, in case well, you didn't know what it meant, but maybe that is tmi?).

I was wondering when people call their local PD, or 911, why they feel the need to start telling all this information that isn't completely relevant to a total stranger on the phone.  And then I started thinking about some of the blogs I read, and my twitter feed, and realized maybe it's the anonymity of it all.  Perhaps we like sharing things with someone, or an audience, that we can't actually see.

Lately I've been trying to simplify my life.  Things can be so complicated sometimes.  And a bit of my simplifying is thinking about how wordy I can be sometimes, and trying to say more with less.

But back to this mornings random thoughts, which were prompted by a dispatching shift yesterday and got me thinking about several of my previous shifts.  Thankfully I'm a per diem, so I don't have to think about this stuff every day.

My co-workers and I don't really need to know your personal life story, medical history, your opinions on how intelligent or not you are, taxpayer status, how you can't read signs, or the amazing way that you managed to break into your own car after you locked the keys in it unless it is absolutely relevant to why you are calling.  Just tell us in a simple and concise manner why you need the police, fire dept, animal control officer or whomever to help you out.  Answer our questions simply.  We need to know things like what the situation is, where you are, how to call you back and who you are.  I don't need to know that you are horribly embarrassed and questioning your intelligence level because you didn't see or read the sign that the state park gate was going to be locked at 8pm and it's now after 8 and you're locked in.

We talk to a lot of people on the phone and radio.  A LOT.  That's not shouty, that's capitalized because we get a lot of phone calls and speak to potentially hundreds of people in a shift.  The more efficiently we can take your information the more efficiently we can dispatch the appropriate responder to the situation.  Getting chatty on the phone isn't an efficient use of my time and resources. 

There are some situations that do require us to keep you on the phone, sometimes just chatting, and that is for your safety or the safety of our responders.  We'll let you know when we need to do that. 

So please don't think we're rude when we ask some basic questions, try to stop you from continuing to provide us with TMI, and let you know we have help or a responder on the way.  That's just us doing our job efficiently and as simply as possible. 


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