If you live in Washington and need help fast for a rape victim, drug addict, potential suicide or a battered child, don't rush to the telephone book.
All four numbers listed under the District government in the Chesapeake & Potomac telephone directory for 24-hour counseling for such emergencies are incorrect.
What's more, if you ask the telephone company's information operators for the right numbers, three of the four numbers they will give you will still be wrong.
Telephone company officials say it is not their fault. They say the city government, which is gradually converting to a fancier Centrex telephone system, has not told the phone company to do what is necessary to switch callers to the correct new emergency numbers.
The District government will not go that far. Spokeswoman Linda Berger acknowledges the city government "probably" failed to tell C&P of only one number change. In two of the other three, she said, D.C. government operators are supposed to come on the line to give the correct numbers, and C&P operators are supposed to intercept and correct the remaining number.
In any event, once you find the correct numbers, government workers -- some of them specialists in family and other crisis situations -- will in fact answer the phone and provide assistance. The numbers are staffed 24 hours a day, according to government officials.
The four incorrect emergency numbers are listed the current C&P directory on page 152 under the D.C. government's Department of Human Resources.
The first is for Drug Treatment -- 347-9593. When you dial that number, a C&P recorded voice intercepts the call and tells you the correct number is 727-0474. When you dial that number, you get no answer, according to the Natcotics Treatment Administration, is 626-2327.
The second number listed is for Protective Services (abused children) -- 629-3098. When you dial that number, the line is either dead or the phone rings without being answered. If you call C&P information, the operator gives you 727-0995, which is the correct number.
The third number is for Sexual Assualts -- 626-5000. That is the main number of D.C. General Hospital. When you call there, the hospital switchboard connects you with the obstetrics ward which in turn refers you to a D.C. Police sex squad number if you want to file a rape complaint. If you call C&P information, the operator still gives you 626-5000. D.C. government spokeswoman Berger says the correct, direct-dial number for sexual assault information or assistance is 626-7273 (the last four digits correspond to the letters R-A-P-E on the telephone dial).
The fourth number is for Suicide Prevention -- 629-5225. When you dial that number, you get no answer.When you ask C&P information for help, the operator still gives you 629-5225. The correct number for suicide prevention, according to Washington officials, is 727-3622.
C&P spokesman Dave Cook said much of the problem can be traced to the fact that three of the numbers -- those for drug treatment, suicide prevention and protective services -- "have been or are in the midst of being changed over" to a new Centrex system from the old electro-mechanical system.
In the case of those numbers handled by the District PBX (private branch exchange), Cook said, the city government would have to inform C&P of any changes in numbers if it wanted C&P to provide an intercept service to give the new numbers. He said the company has not received any such requests.
In the case of the D.C. General Hospital number listed for sexual assulats, it would be impractical to put an intercept service on the number because of the large volume of calls made to the hospital, Cook said.
Berger said D.C. government operators -- as distinct from C&P operators -- are supposed to intercept all calls on defunct government numbers beginning with 626", 628" and 629", which would include the numbers for suicide prevention and protective services. However, in two recent consecutive nights of calling over the course of several hours by the Washington Post, there was no answer at the protective services number after 15 rings on each call. Only once, the number for suicide prevention was answered by an operator after 10 rings. She gave the correct suicide prevention number of 727-3622.
Cook of C&P speculated that the D.C. government operators may be "overwhelmed" by calls and cannot answer them all.
District Building spokeswoman Kathy Williams said all major newspapers and radio and television stations were notified of the corrected suicide prevention number earlier this month, and a formal news release was issued by the mayor's office.
The Human Resources Department plans to issue a departmental telephone directory to the public next month, and it will contain all the corrected number, officials said.
Also, C&P will start distributing the 1978 edition of the city directory on April 17, Cook said, "and hopefully the right numbers will be in there."