The former 'American Idol' judge Paula Abdul has managed to crawl her way back into the news - all thanks to the frantic 911 call she made to report on her boyfriend on Valentine's Day. But, as she later declined to file a police report citing that the altercation was a just a verbal argument and was not physical, the whole ordeal has put light on emergency etiquette.
The celebrity gossip website TMZ, which has the audio of the call made at 4:35 PM on Feb. 14, reported that Paula and the her yet-to-be-identified boyfriend were driving near Santa Barbara when the argument broke out.
In the audio, Paula is heard saying, I wanna go, and he won't let me!
Seconds later, she says Are you gonna drop me off 'cause I have emergency on the phone, followed by, He's dropping me off.
When the police got in touch with her an hour later the singer told the officers that it was a verbal dispute.
So far, Paula has not made any statement regarding the incident. The former Laker Girl, who was considered a 'cheerleading' judge against the others on the panel, left 'American Idol' a season after Kara DioGuardi joined. After her 'Idol' stint, Paula hosted the CBS dance reality competition 'Live to Dance' which aired its finale on Feb. 9.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson of Paula Abdul told TMZ, Arguments with loved ones are often times heated. After the call was made everything was worked out.
Although the spokesperson's comments were convincing on the altercation front, there are questions if Paula Abdul should have dialed 911 over a verbal spat. The emergency telephone number receives an estimated 240 million calls in the U.S. annually, according to the data released by National Emergency Number Association (NENA) on Feb. 1, 2011. The use of 911 is reserved for emergency circumstances. Using it for any other purpose including non-emergency problems or prank calls is considered a misdemeanor offense.
Although not all non-emergency calls end up attracting the charge of misdemeanor offense due to the broad nature of the term and definition of 'emergency', there is, nevertheless, a certain level of etiquette involved in using the emergency lifeline. On DVMEN website (of Domestic Violence Against Men), Charles E. Corry, Ph.D., writes, Unfortunately, but certainly understandable from a human perspective, it is often used for everything from a missing dog to a cat up a tree, as well as in domestic arguments.
In the section urging to 'Think before you dial 911', Corry notes, A 911 call is virtually certain to change your life for the worse and provide little or no help.
In another perspective to the Paula Abdul's incident, the 911 call could mean death to the relationship.
In an intimate relationship, dialing 911 is the equivalent of a nuclear attack. It may be needed but the same safeguards we use to prevent an accidental missile launch should be considered before the 911 call is made.