Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

WHEN DO YOU CALL 9-1-1?

Examples of when to call 9-1-1 are:

  • When you see smoke or fire.
  • When someone’s life and/or propertyin immediate danger.
  • When you see a crime being committed.
  • When rescue or emergency medical assistance needed.
  • When you are not sure, call & let trained personnel decide.

WHAT WILL THE DISPATCHER ASK YOU WHEN YOU CALL 9-1-1?

All callers are asked a standard set of questions which will help the dispatcher prioritize your call, and will provide the responding personnel with information before their arrival. The following are just some of the questions we may ask you.

LOCATION OF THE PROBLEM:

Where are you and where did the incident happen?

This is important if the phone line disconnects for some reason. Even though the 9-1-1 information the dispatcher receives should have the phone number and address of where you are calling from, the dispatcher will ask you for the address where the problem is, as well as where you are calling from, to verify the information on the 9-1-1 screen. This is especially critical if you are calling from an address other than the one where the problem is. It is also important to give any building names, building numbers, apartment or condominium names and unit or suite numbers.

Be as specific as possible. Avoid using "left" and "right" as directions. This is often confusing. Instead, use a direction such as "North" or "South". The best locations are specific street addresses or cross streets.

NATURE OF THE PROBLEM:

  • Please use real language – don’try to use lingo or slang, it will only confuse the situation.
  • tell us briefly what is happening or what happened.
  • Is anyone injured?
  • Basic description of what occurred.

TIME ELEMENT:

When did this occur? 5 minutes ago, 5 days ago, last year, has it been going on over a span of time(hours, days, or weeks).

PERSON DESCRIPTION:

  • How many people are involved?
  • Race, sex, height, weight, clothing, hair color, facial hair, eyeglasses, hat, etc.
  • Descriptions are asked from the topbottom, outside to inside…
  • What is “Top to Bottom”? Hat, hair, facial hair, shirt, coat, pants, shoes - top of the person to the bottom
  • What is “Outside to Inside”? Coat is on the outside, shirt on the inside, t-shirt inside that –outer clothing first then less visible clothing.
  • DID THE PERSON HAVE A WEAPON? If so, what kind?
  • Was the person carrying anything?
  • Where did the person go?

VEHICLE DESCRIPTION

  • Color, year, make, model, body, accessories, license #.
  • Direction of travel
  • When calling 9-1-1, all you have to do is answer the dispatcher’s questions! Stay on the phone and answer the questions as calmly as you can. Sometimes it may sound as if the dispatchers are repeating themselves with the same questions, but you may give more detail the second time the question is asked. There may have been something you've forgotten earlier. Please don’t be frustrated - they are trying to assist you and obtain important information. We know how stressful an emergency situation can be, try to remain calm when giving information. Do not hang up until the 9-1-1 Dispatcher, or the on-scene Police or Fire personnel direct you to do so.

WHEN GIVING INFORMATION, DON'T EDIT OR EXAGERATE! 

Give all the information that you have. For Example: If you don't mention that the suspect was wearing a red hat because you don't think it was important, you may be withholding the single most important identifier in apprehending the suspect. An emergency response WILL NOT be delayed by answering the above questions. In most instances, assistance will be dispatched while you are still on the phone. By answering the dispatcher's questions, the dispatcher can relay important information to the units responding prior to their arrival. This increases the chances of a successful outcome to the call!


WHAT ABOUT DIALING 9-1-1 IN A MAJOR DISASTER?

There will be a delay in receiving a dial tone. Don't flick the phone hook switch button (click button up and down), since each time it is depressed, your call reverts to the "end of the line" to receive the dial tone, resulting in further delay!

Wait at least one to one and a half minutes for a dial tone. It could take that long or even 5-6 minutes in a major disaster, because of the number of calls being made.

Please tune in the emergency broadcast station of your radio for information and updates rather than to call the police or fire departments. DO NOT CALL radio stations for updates; the less the phone lines are used, the more service there will be for emergency help.

In some instances, the dial tone will be eliminated from residential phones and phones that are not on "essential service". In these instances, ALL PAY PHONES will be operable, with a dial tone.

There is no way to tell, in advance, if the 9-1-1 screens in the dispatch center will be functioning correctly in a major emergency, so be prepared to give the dispatcher all information. During a disaster, electricity usually fails. Do NOT call 9-1-1 to find out when the power will go back on.

WHAT IF I ACCIDENTLY DIAL 9-1-1?

DO NOT HANG UP! Before you hang up, be sure to tell the dispatcher that you have dialed 9-1-1 by mistake, and that you do not need emergency help! This is particularly important if you dial from a business phone with several phone lines. Anytime the police dispatcher receives a 9-1-1 "hang-up"; the caller must be contacted to be sure that no actual emergency exists. If your business has dozens or even hundreds of phone lines, it may be impossible for the dispatcher to determine who, if anyone needs help, and an officer may be dispatched to the address.

ARE PAY PHONES ANY DIFFERENT?

You may dial 9-1-1 for an emergency at any pay phone, without needing any coins. The phone number and location of the pay phone should show up on the 9-1-1 screen.

WHAT IF I DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH?

9-1-1 allows emergency calls to be transferred to an interpreter who can interpret other languages. Interpretation is accessible from every telephone; home and business phones, coin-operated and phones equipped with T.T.Y.'s (Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf and hard of hearing). Each 9-1-1 station in the Communications Center is equipped with a TTY machine. To access TTY or TDD, press the space bar until a response is received

SHOULD I PROGRAM MY TELEPHONE TO DIAL 9-1-1?

While it is not against the law, we strongly advise against doing this. Automatic dialing of 9-1-1 can result in accidental calls to the 9-1-1 dispatcher. Speed dialing can malfunction, and stop working, which would delay precious response time. In addition, if you are training your children to press a one-button speed call number in an emergency, they may not know how to call for help from another phone.

 

IF YOU WERE INJURED, WOULD YOUR CHILD KNOW HOW TO GET HELP?

Make sure your child knows the following information:

  • Name (yours and the child’s)
  • Address (including name of apartment complex and apartment numberapplicable)
  • Phone number
  • Directions to your home fromnearest main road, intersection or major landmark
  • OTHER THINGS TO THINK ABOUT….
  • Make sure your address and phone number is posted by the phone(s), so they can be read by anyone using the telephone in an emergency. In timesemergency, even those who have lived in their houses for 20 years have been known to forget their information.
  • Do you have a cordless phone? Low batteries may activatecall to 9-1-1; check batteries regularly
  • Make sure your house number is visiblenight from the street and is clearly posted where your driveway joins the main road.
  • 9-1-1 is the number to dial for the fastest possible emergency response when you need emergency POLICE, FIRE or MEDICAL ASSISTANCE in a life or death situation


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