thing a caller needs to do is remain calm and clear when
calling 9-1-1. A trained dispatcher will ask questions to obtain the
information they need to send you help. It is very
important to answer all the dispatcher’s questions and wait for the
dispatcher to advise it is okay to hang up the phone. Information must
be relayed to the emergency responders, and sometimes the needed
information may not be obvious to the caller.
are much like the news media in that they need to know who, what, where,
when, why and how – but not necessarily in that order. Here are some
of the things you may be asked when calling 9-1-1.
The first and most important piece of
information that will be needed is the location of the emergency.
Dispatchers will ask where the emergency is occurring, which may not
necessarily be your address. Once dispatchers have a location,
even if they are unable to get any more information, they can at least
send help. Of course, more information would assist in the proper
response; so again, stay on the line until the dispatcher says it is
okay to hang up.
What is the emergency? Different types
of emergencies get different types of responses. For example, not
all accidents are responded to in the same way. If there are
injuries, an ambulance and fire department medics or first responders
are dispatched along with the police. If there is someone trapped
in the vehicle or gas is leaking, additional fire department equipment
and personnel are needed. If the accident is blocking traffic at a
busy intersection, more officers may be needed for traffic control.
Dispatchers will ask who is calling and what
your telephone number is. Sometimes a call-back is needed to
obtain further information. Sometimes, a witness to whatever
happened may be important to the investigation of the incident.
It is not always necessary to give your name and the dispatchers can
honor requests of callers who wish to remain anonymous.
and How: Different types of emergencies
prompt different types of questions from the dispatchers.
Responding law enforcement officers, fire fighters and emergency medical
responders need certain information depending on the kind of call to
determine how they must respond. Specific questions will help to
determine the priority of the call, as the public safety communications
center is a busy place. Calls in progress will be responded
to with a higher priority than those that occurred at an earlier time
and are not so immediate.
be prepared to give suspect and vehicle descriptions. Not only do
officers respond to take the report, but other officers may begin
looking for the perpetrators.
callers get upset with these questions, thinking it will create a delay
in the response. This is not the case, as dispatchers work with a
computer-aided dispatching system that allows partner dispatchers to
send help while the call taker gets further information.
BUSY! The La Crosse County Public Safety
Communications Center is full of activity. The dispatchers answer not
only the 9-1-1 calls for La Crosse County, but also the non-emergency
police lines. On average, the 9-1-1 calls account for less than 10% of
the total calls the communications center receives in a day, since a
typical day often generates more than 1,000 telephone calls.
Nevertheless, when the distinctive 9-1-1 lines ring, the emergency
dispatchers immediately answer.
“9-1-1! What is the address of the EMERGENCY?”