From the Kenosha PD: Be ready to answer important questions when calling 911
“911, what’s your emergency?” is commonly the response when a citizen dials 911. The telecommunicator answering the call will immediately follow-up with several more questions designed to ensure the proper assistance is sent to where it is needed. These questions provide valuable safety information to the responding personnel and ultimately help to bring criminals to justice. A caller that remains calm and answers the questions will save time, potentially saving lives and property from harm.
“The 911 emergency system serves an important purpose in the preservation of life and property. “If a person is unsure an emergency call is necessary, they should err on the side of caution and call 911,” said Josh Nelson, joint services manager. “Do not call 911 for general inquiries or to report non-emergencies, as this could potentially delay the response for a real emergency.”
Where? Knowing where to send help is the most important piece of information the telecommunicator needs. Without an accurate location, arrival of help will be delayed. Some information normally asked will include addresses, apartment building names, unit numbers, subdivision names, and lot numbers. Current technology may provide an address or general area, but telecommunicators will still ask to verify a location. This is needed to ensure that the information being provided by the 911 system is accurate.
What/Why? What the problem is or why assistance is needed determines what resources will be dispatched.
When? Is it happening now? This information will help determine the call’s priority. Should it be dispatched before other calls?
Who? Who are the involved parties? Depending on the nature of the call, the telecommunicator will be looking for information regarding victims, suspects, vehicles, weapons, drug use, and alcohol use. The more detailed the information, the better for all concerned. An officer responding to the scene may be able to apprehend a fleeing suspect before arriving to the scene based on a good description.
Injuries? If someone is injured or ill, the telecommunicator will ask a series of questions specifically related to the type of injury or illness, including the age, sex, consciousness, and breathing pattern of the patient. Additional questions may be asked based on the medical emergency; the answers to these questions will determine the appropriate response by first responders and determine what instructions will be given to the caller before help arrives.
Telephone Numbers? Obtaining a callback telephone number is essential in the event the call is disconnected or if the responding units are unable to locate the problem.
When an emergency call is made, the telecommunicator you are speaking with on the telephone may not be the same person who dispatches the responding emergency personnel. The 911 Center uses a computer system that allows information to be shared between the person receiving the emergency call and the person dispatching the responding units on the radio. This saves time and allows for units to be dispatched while information is being received.
Emergency situations are very stressful. The telecommunicators are very aware that when a 911 call is made, help is needed immediately. However, please remember the questions asked serve an important safety purpose. So if you make a 911 call, please try to provide the needed information in a calm, clear, and concise manner. This will help the telecommunicator to dispatch the responding personnel as quickly as possible, thereby saving lives or property.