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Guidelines for Calling or Texting 9-1-1

Post Date:07/27/2018 1:00 PM

The day you call 9-1-1 could be the worst day of your life, but for the Public Safety Dispatcher who answers it is another day on the job. In order for Dispatchers to be able to help you, your assistance is needed with the following:

Stay calm. Dispatchers can't help you if they cannot understand you. Take a deep breath and think before you talk. Speak slowly and clearly.

Know your location and tell the Dispatcher the exact address (e.g. street address, apartment/suite number, intersection, interstate mile markers, significant landmarks, etc.) where the help is needed.

Answer all questions. The Dispatcher will have questions for you and may even ask you to do something to help. It is important that you answer the questions as best as you can. DO NOT HANG UP unless you are in danger or the Dispatcher tells you to do so.

State the nature of the emergency. Be specific (e.g. victim’s age and gender, consciousness status, breathing status, medical needs, medical history, etc.) and stay on the line with the Dispatcher until emergency personnel arrive on the scene.

Send someone to meet the emergency equipment if at all possible. It can be hard to find an address on a dimly lit street or among a large business campus.

Teach your children how to call 9-1-1.  Be sure they know what 9-1-1 is, can dial from your home and cell phone, and trust the 9-1-1 call taker.  Make sure they are physically able to reach at least one phone in your home.  When calling 9-1-1, your children need to know their name, parent's name, telephone number and especially their address. Tell them to answer all the Dispatcher's questions and stay on the phone until they're told to hang up.

If you call 9-1-1 even by mistake, do not hang up the phone.  If you call by accident, stay on the line until you can tell the Dispatcher there is not an emergency. Otherwise, the call taker wastes time calling you back or sending Police with lights and sirens to check your address for an emergency.

Prevent prank calls to 9-1-1.  Prank calls not only waste time, but they are illegal. If 9-1-1 Dispatchers are busy with prank calls, someone with a real emergency may not be able to get the help they need.  Be sure all members of your household are aware that prank or harassing calls to 9-1-1 will be dealt with by local law enforcement agencies.

Call if You Can, Text if You Can't! Text to 9-1-1 is ideal for residents who cannot safely dial 9-1-1 in a dangerous situation, those who are deaf/hard of hearing or have a speech disability.

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