RVOD129 Telephone For Help

(1970s-ish, Educational/Short, color)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

And within hours, help is on the way.

Rating: ***1/2

In a Nutshell:

If it’s an emergency and you need help, telephone for it.


Somebody wander off and get help just as soon as they can get around to it!A woman falls from a barstool while hanging drapes. Her nine-year-old nephew arrives and hurries to call an ambulance. With prompting, he tells the dispatcher his name, location and the nature of the emergency.

A little girl runs into a burning house to call the fire department while her mother beats back the flames with a garden hose. The better-organized girl already has her vital statistics written down next to the phone so she can blurt them at the dispatcher as soon as he answers. Fire trucks speed slowly and cautiously to their location.

A Little League game goes horribly wrong when a player’s leg bends the wrong way during a slide. The coach kneels beside him to keep the other players at bay and, I dunno, fan him with his hat or something. Coach tosses a dime to another player, who runs to the nearest phone booth. The kid doesn’t know any emergency numbers, so he dials zero and tells the operator the situation. She punches some buttons and moves some plugs, and soon he’s repeating himself to the dispatcher. Emergency personnel arrive just as soon as this information can work its way through the various channels of our pre-digital history.


Hey, kids. Hypothetical situation: Suppose you’re outside, and you see smoke pouring from the garage. Do you a) run into the house, hoping the room with the phone in it isn’t on fire yet, or b) run twelve extra steps to a neighbor’s house and call for help from relative safety? Just curious.

Also, it kind of defeats your emergency preparedness short’s sense of urgency when no one seems particularly alarmed by your simulated accidents. The kids, the dispatchers, even the falling aunt all seem rather ho-hum about broken legs, house fires, and possible spinal cord injuries. The kids walk nonchalantly to their phones and struggle with the heavy dial. (“It seems to be taking every ounce of her strength,” Mike says of the girl.) The dispatchers take their information just as casually, repeating it back to their callers with in a near-incomprehensible mumble. Index cards are lazily sought in filing cabinets. Maps are lackadaisically surveyed. Eventually someone gets around to showing up at the right place and providing assistance. I dearly hope that in real life, even with that time period’s technological limitations, emergency crews took these situations a little more seriously.

A few favorite comments: When paralyzed aunt sends her nephew to the phone, Mike says, “And don’t try to call Batman this time.” As a dispatcher flips through index cards in a filing cabinet, Kevin says, “This looks like a job for my lemon bar recipe.” As smoke pours out of a neighborhood garage, Bill says, “Tommy Chong must be visiting.” There’s nothing particularly exciting about the short, but the riffers manage to push all the right buttons, making a lazy little emergency short highly entertaining.