Welcome to my Puerto Rico 911 Experiences page. In this page I will mention the experiences I have had with the emergency response system (911) in Puerto Rico. I am doing this so that you know what to expect and how to deal with it if a similar situation happens to you.
CAPECO OIL REFINERY EXPLOSION:
In October 2009 as I was getting home from work shortly after midnight, I heard several very loud explosions as if they were happening just behind my house. To give you an idea of how strong these explosions were, my side sliding door, which is VERY heavy, was blown in and some of my neighbor’s windows were also blown in and destroyed.
Anyway, I heard those explosions and I became really scared, I had no idea what was going on, so I thought maybe someone was trying to break down my front door, so I called 911. They answered right away and I went on to tell the dispatcher that someone was trying to break into my house because I heard really loud thumping noise in my house and then a door falling down (which then I saw was my sliding door). The dispatcher seemed scared since she told me immediately that she too heard that noise and was shaken up quite a bit.
After she told me that I told her that I would like the police since the previous week, my front door neighbor’s house almost got broken into and a house down the road from where I live actually did get broken into. The dispatcher told me that what I heard was not someone breaking into my house and then she hung up on me. That’s it. I was really shocked that the emergency response was “it’s not what you think it is, bye”.
Thankfully she was correct, and what happened was that for some reason there were several explosions in the oil refinery, causing a fire that took 2 days to extinguish.
Nevertheless, at that particular time, when the dispatcher hung up on me, I got out of the room, saw the sliding door blown in, my daughter’s door open and not hearing her; an oil refinery explosion was really not in my mind of possibilities, I almost panicked, then I saw my daughter in a corner standing in her crib, everything was ok then.
Phone Call Scam
Back in the summer of 2012, I had several missed calls in my cell phone, there was a person that kept calling me. Thinking that it was an important matter, I decided to answer the call the next time the person called.
The person told me that there was someone who was very jealous because I had a “thing” with 2 women (as if I were some stud), which is obviously not true, and that one of the women that I as supposedly involved with had a boyfriend and he wanted me to be “history”.
Well, I knew immediately it was a scam so I told my wife to call 911 since the person was threatening that if I hung up or didn’t pay $5000, he would have no choice but to do what he was hired to do. So I kept him on the phone, gave the phone number of the caller to my wife for her to tell the authorities and possibly trace the call (if it was possible).
The problem was that no one there spoke any English, and my wife does not speak Spanish, so she kept getting bounce around different people, none of which knew any more English than the previous. So, while I kept the man on the phone trying to see if we could get help, it was evident that my wife would not get any help since no one spoke English. I hung up and talked to whoever my wife was on the phone with which actually was the city police since no one else could help her.
I talked to the police officer on the phone and he explained to me that prison inmates have been getting pre-paid cell phones and making those calls. Ever since that moment I have not received any more random calls like that, however what was very frustrating was that no one spoke English. So if you don’t speak any English, please try to learn some basic words, just enough to get you help if you have an emergency.
Welcome to my Puerto Rico Emergency Response Experience page. In this page I will mention the experiences I have had with the emergency response system (i.e. 911) in Puerto Rico. I am doing this so that you know what to expect and how to deal with it if a similar situation happens to you.
Witnessed Car Accidents
I have witnessed two serious car accidents in the past 3 years, one of them was late at night and the other was very early in the morning (or late at night to those involved). They were both in the freeway and very serious.
Given that I am in my car in the freeway, and knowing how people drive here, I decided to call 911 from my cell phone.
To my surprise in both occasions, the emergency response center never answered my call.
The incident that was late at night, I was on my way home, and I made it all the way home with the phone ringing because no one answered. I then called from my house phone and they answered and told me that help was on the way.
The morning incident was when I was on my way to work. Same thing, I made it all the way to work and no one answered my call. I then called from work and they also said that help was already on the way.
Thoughts about my emergency response experience in Puerto Rico
These experiences makes me think that the emergency response system in Puerto Rico will not answer your calls if the area code in your phone is not a local one. I suppose that the fact that the accidents were at such an early or late hours, maybe they are not as fully staffed, however the fact that they answered so quickly when I called from a local land line phone makes me think that I will not be able to reach the local emergency response system using my cell phone since the area code is from the US.
As far as what people say and what you read in the newspaper. The emergency response times in Puerto Rico are much slower than you would see in the US. This may be due to the amount of traffic or where you live, but I have not heard anyone say that the ambulance or police got to their location within 10 minutes of the call. I hope I get to hear some better stories soon.