Daily Israel Report

Police Phone Receptionists to be Retrained?

After receptionist failed to help driver avoid horrific accident, police may do some rethinking.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 6/3/2012, 9:49 PM

Police receptionist
Police receptionist
Screenshot

Police Commissioner Lt. Gen. Yohanan Danino received suggestions Sunday for a reform in the way police emergency phone receptionists are trained and relayed the ideas to the relevant professionals in the police force.

Danino decision was communicated to lawyers Vered Cohen and Raanan Bar-On, who had presented him with the ideas following the horrific accident in which eight members of the Atias family were wiped out when their car's brakes malfunctioned.

The driver, Rafael Atias, called the police hotline but the receptionist proved unable to help: instead of giving him instructions on how best to stop the car, she asked him for the location of the vehicle and said that she would dispatch a squad car to the location. The car kept on hurtling downhill and crashed in a ball of flames.

The lawyers asked the commissioner to have police emergency hotline receptionists (contacted by dialing 100 from any telephone) trained to deal with situations of distress in which drivers and other citizens need their immediate help.

The lawyers said that instead of trying to find out the location of the vehicle, the receptionist should have told the driver not to press down on the brakes for more than 5 seconds at a time, to gradually shift into lower gears to reduce speed, to use the handbrake and to bring the side of the car into full contact with the side rail.

The lawyers offered a comparison to Magen David Adom receptionists who are trained to offer real time advice in situations of childbirth, asphyxiation, resuscitation and more. In most advanced western states, they wrote, police emergency receptionists have been trained to offer emergency assistance beyond dispatching a squad car.