Calling 9-1-1 Emergency
Officer Scott Hallock explains how, when and why you should call 9-1-1.
Calling 9-1-1 Emergency
9-1-1 is an emergency system that started 40 years ago and is a universal number everyone recognizes and can call for the Police, Fire department or Ambulance when there is an urgent situation.
The only time to call 9-1-1 is when there is a crisis, disaster, an emergency or when your life or the life of someone else is in danger, and you need immediate help. Calling 9-1-1 can be very overwhelming therefore; you must remain calm and give the proper information to the operator that is required to get the help you need. You may reach a recording so make sure you listen to what it is saying. It could be telling you "your call cannot be completed" so hang up and dial 9-1-1 again. If the recording is telling you that all operators are busy then you must wait on the line for an operator to answer.
What happens when you call 9-1-1
When you dial 9-1-1, you will reach a dispatcher who has been highly trained to gather information, keep control and dispatch the proper help needed.
Once on the line, the operator will ask you certain questions to determine the nature of your emergency.
Calling from a land line
If you are calling from a land line such as a home phone, office phone or pay phone the address you are calling from will automatically appear on the computer screen of the 9-1-1 operator. This means that during an emergency if you do not know where you are, or if all you have time for is to dial 9-1-1 and drop the phone without saying a word the operator will know where to send help.
Calling from a cell phone
It is important to know that as long as you can get a signal, you can make a 9-1-1 call from any cell phone, even if the cell phone is NOT activated.
When you make a 9-1-1 call from a cell phone, you are sending signals through the air to the nearest tower so unlike a land line the 9-1-1 operator will not know where you are.
Calling from a cell phone will get you to a centralized 9-1-1 operator who may not be in your city. Be prepared with the address of your location, and if you do not know where you are, you will be asked what City you are in or to describe the general area that you can see so give as much detail as you possibly can.
You do not need to put money in the pay phone to dial 9-1-1. You can simply pick up the phone, dial 9-1-1, and connect to the operator. Since this is a land line, the operator will automatically know your location, but if you need to know the location, the address of where you are calling from is on the pay phone near the coin slot.
When and why to call 9-1-1
Many people are unsure if their emergency rises to the level of being good enough to call 9-1-1. When there is an emergency, most people first call a friend, family member or doctor to ask what to do and in turn, the advice is to call 9-1-1. This is not a good practice because your situation could be time sensitive.
The best "when and why" rule of thumb for calling 9-1-1 is when your life or the life of someone else is in immediate danger, a medical emergency or crime in progress.
Call 9-1-1 for medical emergencies that have the possibility of being life threatening, when there is a potential danger of further injury to the victim or others, or if you are unsure of the seriousness of the medical problem.
Call 9-1-1 for all crimes in progress, if you think the suspect is still there or in the area, and you need the Police to respond right away.
Call 9-1-1 if there is a fire, and you need the Fire Department to respond.
The important thing to remember is that the reasons why you are calling 9-1-1 is for a rapid response for help. Because your City may have limited personal the reasons why you call is very important because you do not want to tie up emergency resources for something that is not truly an emergency.
Teach children about 9-1-1
How I learned you could use an inactive cell phone was when I was teaching my daughter how to dial 9-1-1. Figuring the phone was inactive and there would be no harm, I told her to dial the number. Within seconds, she asked me, "Daddy, I hear a voice on here asking me what my emergency is". I quickly explained to the operator, apologized and directly hung up.
Teach your children how to dial 9-1-1 (without actually dialing the number). They should know what to say, their address or the location where they are and to stay on the line, not to hang up and wait until help arrives.
Warning: Teach your children not to play on the phone or dial 9-1-1 if there is no emergency. Remember, when 9-1-1 is dialed, the operator will see your address and send the Police. 9-1-1 operators receive many hang-ups from children playing on the phone.
Outside of the USA emergency number
If you were traveling outside the USA, it would be important to learn what the emergency phone number is in case you need to call. For example, instead of 9-1-1, European Countries such as the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Arab Countries, a number of Commonwealth Countries and former British colonies use the numbers, 9-9-9. (Source Wikipedia)
9-1-1 is our direct link to get the help we need when there is an emergency. Each year countless lives are saved, crime thwarted and problems reduced due to a prompt response of emergency personal.
We owe all the men and woman of Law Enforcement, Fire fighters, medical personal and especially our 9-1-1 operators a debt of gratitude. Thank you for all you do.