Triple Zero for Deaf

Originally posted on 8th February 2013.

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One dark stormy September night, I was about to go to bed as I had to work the next day. It had just hit 10.30PM. My iPhone vibrated and shrilled all of a sudden. There was a text message from a friend (let’s call her Peyton)…only I did not know how urgent it was. I was already concerned about her.

The text message was a cry for help. Asking me to help. Urgently and in the best way I could. I was suddenly stuck. I had no idea what to do. I knew right and then I had to call the emergency services immediately, but I did not know how I would go about it. I sent a Facebook message to another friend, knowing that she would help out as well. I tried to call the police by using their direct number, but it took too long. My Facebook friend (again, let’s call her Karen) urged me to call Triple Zero using NRS – I was more likely to get an immediate response.

I was already shaking. I never had to call the emergency line and I was about to. I did not want to mess it up and put Simone in further danger. I scolded myself and said “Sherrie, you are much stronger than this. Peyton needs you. Do it”.

I took a deep breath and dialed the emergency number using the internet relay. The RO came to life and gave me three options: PPP (police), FFF (fire) or AAA (ambulance). At the same time, I was hoping that Peyton would be able to get immediate help, since I was calling from Sydney, and she was in another state. I was overwhelmed that she entrusted me to get help for her. I told the RO to put me through to the police.

I was immediately put through to the police, and they threw questions at me and I answered them the best way I could. I sincerely hoped the information I gave them would be enough to save Peyton’s life. At the same time, Karen was trying her darnest to get in contact with Peyton’s parents – after a couple of tries, she finally got in touch with them.

I was impressed with NRS and the way they handled the call, however I did not like having a third party being involved in an emergency call. An emergency SMS number would have been perfect and I would have felt more independent.

Nevertheless, Senator Stephen Conroy announced last night on The Project that an emergency SMS service would begin on 1st July 2013. A huge milestone achieved for the Australian deaf community. Many Deaf Australians are rejoicing with Senator Conroy’s announcement. It came 3 years late, but the saying goes – better later than never. Deaf Australia has worked tirelessly to make this happen – huge kudos to them.

An official media statement from the Gillard Government can be seen here.

In the meantime, we will have to continue relying on NRS, family or friends to call Triple Zero when we happen to find ourselves in an emergency/life threatening situation.

My experience was rather daunting to be honest, and it had an huge impact on me. Right now, I am sitting down and reflecting on it – yes, daunting yet positive. The police said that my call came at the perfect time – if it had been a couple of minutes late, the result would have been worse. Peyton is forever grateful and so are her parents. Karen was an huge help – and without her, I would have been lost.

I am excited to see the impact the emergency SMS number will have on the Australian Deaf community.

Love and light,

S xo

Disclaimer: Names have been changed for privacy reasons.

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