Noise Disturbance:
Hall County Department of Communications / GIEC, Fall 1981
I’d never had an officer refuse a call for service before…

From the Summer of 1981 through the Spring of 1983, I was employed with the Hall County Department of Communications and Emergency Management, most commonly referred to as the Grand Island Emergency Center or "GIEC" on the radio. GIEC was the 911 Center for all of Hall County, and with the exception of the Nebraska State Patrol, dispatched for all law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and emergency medical services (EMS) in the county. In short, we handled all public safety communications in Hall County.

We also were the regional communications hub for the Nebraska EMS Network, which comprised of a fairly sophisticated system of mobile radio communications for ambulances, hospitals, doctors, and other medical personnel. Before cell phones existed, this was how doctors in the field communicated. As Communications Operators, we were not only trained in law enforcement procedures, we were also trained and certified as Emergency Medical First Responders, and Emergency Medical Dispatchers.

I was working the 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM Night Shift at my console when I took a 911 call from a party residing in a rural area in the northern part of the county. It must have been around 2:00 or 3:00 AM. The caller, who sounded like he was intoxicated, wanted to report a Noise Disturbance. He said that his next door neighbors were running some sort of lumber saw that was whining loudly, and making it impossible to get any sleep. I obtained the pertinent information, and dispatched a Sheriff’s Deputy to respond to the issue.

About ten or fifteen minutes later, the Deputy reported that he was “On Scene” and would be out of the unit, talking to the complainant. About fifteen minutes later, the Deputy reported that he was “10-98” indicating that he was finished with the assignment and was back in service.

A very short time later, I took another call on 911 from the same drunk, demanding that the Deputy come back, adding, “He didn’t do a damn thing! The noise is driving me crazy!”

I contacted the Deputy to return to the scene, to which the Deputy replied, “I’m not going back.”

I’m a little perplexed, as I’d never had an officer refuse a call for service before… I arranged for the Deputy to meet me on a side channel to get an explanation. He stated that the caller was extremely intoxicated, very belligerent and abusive, and most importantly delusional. He stated that the subject’s nearest neighbor was two miles away, and that they appeared sound asleep, concluding the only loud noise that was going on was in the caller’s head!

I figured that was the end of it, when the drunks calls 911 again, loudly demanding that the Deputy return to “do his duty” along with a few other expletives. I put the guy on hold, and contacted the Deputy, who again flatly states he is NOT going to return. I advise the Deputy that I have the caller on hold, and he is adamantly demanding service, and I asked, “How do you suggest I deal with this?”

The Deputy replies, “I don’t care how you handle it… It’s not my problem…”

I pause a few seconds, and then punch back onto the line with the caller. “Sir. The Deputy is unable to return. He tells me there’s no disturbing noise found in your area.”

This provoked a loud angry response from the caller! “What do you MEAN he can’t find the noise?! It’s a loud saw running all the time! It’s loud as hell!! GET HIS ASS BACK HERE!!!”

“Sir… There’s no noise. Everything is quiet. There’s nothing the Sheriff can do for you…”

Now he’s really pissed off! “Nothing HE can do?! NOTHING HE CAN DO?!!! If he can’t do anything, what the HELL should I do?!!!”

I collected my thoughts, and then replied, “Sir. Do you have running water in your home?”


“Do you have any aspirin?”


“Then my advice would be that you should take two aspirin and call me in the morning.”

He hung up on me.

I had the next two days off, before returning to work the 3:00 PM to 11:00 PM shift. On arrival, I was summoned to the Director’s Office. There the Boss asked me if I had recalled receiving the call from this particular individual. I acknowledged that I had, and gave a report of the events, and that the caller had been very difficult to deal with. I was then asked if I had actually suggested that the caller “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning…”

“Yeah…” I admitted, “I did indeed say that…”

The Boss hands me a Letter of Reprimand. As a Certified Emergency Medical First Responder, I was not allowed to prescribe medication without authorization.

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