FACTS ABOUT 911

ambamplease:

I know this is long, but please read and reblog this so that we can try and circulate HELPFUL information instead of deadly suggestions.

After stumbling across the last post I reblogged that was full of a lot of DANGEROUS, BAD, TERRIBLE advice in reference to how to handle calling 911 when in danger, I feel compelled to at least try and get some better information out there in the Tumblr community. I am a 911 dispatcher and the first piece of advice I have for anyone in an emergency situation (or even for someone that calls 911 accidentally) is:

DO NOT HANG UP. In case you didn’t get that the first time, I said DO NOT HANG UP THE PHONE. We cannot help you if we do not know where you are, and contrary to what is apparently popular belief, we are NOT mind readers & without knowing your location (which you must provide) we CAN NOT get you help.

To help you understand the importance of this, I’m going to explain to you what happens when you call 911 in my center and in the centers in my area.

911 line rings.

We answer: “_______ (name of your agency) 911, WHERE is your emergency?”

In a perfect world, the caller will respond with the address of their emergency.

If you are unable to do so, we will start to retransmit your location. It takes time. Again, in a perfect world, we can usually get it in less than 10 seconds, but we do not live in a perfect world and so it often doesn’t happen that quickly. (Also, if you’re in an apartment complex, trailer park, hotel, etc, it’s not going to give us the room, lot, etc. number that you’re actually in, even with a retransmit). It is true that if you call from a landline your address will often populate for us, however, the address is NOT always right! We need you to try your ABSOLUTE BEST to provide us with an accurate address. By not knowing your location, you’re prolonging the response time. The call has to be answered, have a confirmed address, type of call that we’re responding to so that the correct responders are dispatched, and then it has to be dispatched. In smaller jurisdictions, their fire/EMS is often volunteer. That means: THEY ARE COMING FROM HOME TO THE STATION. It takes time & the more time we waste just trying to figure out where you are, the longer you’re going to be waiting for a life saving response.

The TERRIBLE information post that is going around tells you to call 911, hang up, and then turn your phone off. NO, NO, NO. That is the absolute WORST thing you could ever do. When a 911 hang up comes in we attempt to call the line back twice. If the line isn’t open long enough to retransmit an address (which most of the time it’s not), that’s it. The call gets out in and closed. There is literally NOTHING WE CAN DO TO HELP YOU. Even if we DO retransmit an address and there is no sign of a disturbance or no other indication that there is an emergency, we often do not send a responder because if we send one to every call, we’d be wasting a LOT of time and resources. We receive 911 hang ups/accidental 911 calls ALL DAY LONG. (Side note: the most common ones that we receive come from disconnected cell phones. Every cell phone (disconnected or not) with battery life can call 911, but 911 CANNOT call those phones back). If you call from a disconnected cell and we’re not able to get a location (or are and not hear any signs that would indicate a need for service), you will most likely not get the help you need.

Moral of this point: DO NOT HANG UP and KNOW WHERE YOU ARE. Try to pay attention to mile markers on the interstate & landmarks, signs or road names. If you call accidentally-STAY ON THE LINE. We (at least at my agency) will ask you to verify your name and address and that there is no emergency. As long as nothing feels/sounds wrong about it to us, we won’t send an officer to knock on your door. You won’t get in trouble. No one will be mad. Just stay on the line so that we don’t waste time and resources on a call that is not emergent.

Disclosure: some agencies offer text to 911. Don’t assume that you can text 911 unless you know that your locality has that capability. A lot of them don’t. If you’re able to safely call you should ALWAYS call rather than text. It’s faster and more efficient.

Moving on-

Answer our questions. We’re not asking you questions for our own amusement. Everything we ask you on the line is for your own safety and for the safety of our responders. They are much more well equipped to handle your emergency if they know what they’re walking into and what supplies they need to bring in with them when they come. We’re NOT going to send our fire/EMS into a scene that is not safe, so answer our questions so that we know which resources need to be provided to you. I know that often times the calls that people place to us are during some of the worst, most terrifying moments of their lives & we WANT to help you in the best way that we know how. We ask the things that we ask because it’s required & because the more we know, the higher the quality of service that we provide you will be.

ALSO: While we’re asking you the questions, most likely RESPONDERS HAVE ALREADY BEEN DISPATCHED. If you didn’t get that, read it again. You can’t imagine how much time we spend trying to argue answers to questions out of callers because we’re being screamed at: “JUST GET THEM HERE QUICKLY.” “HE/SHE/I’LL BE DEAD BEFORE YOU GET THEM HERE,” etc. you’re wasting your time and mine. Try your best to work with us because our number one goal is to get you the help you need as quickly as possible. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t do this for the money. The medics, fire fighters, police officers and animal control officers DON’T do this for the money. (It’s not there, in case you were wondering.) we do this because we genuinely care about other human beings. We want to HELP. We CARE. We are here to protect and serve, but we cannot do that effectively if people are constantly fighting against us.

If you have any questions about how things work here or need advice as to how to handle a call in to 911, feel free to ask and I will give you the best advice that I can. Just please, please don’t listen to terrible misinformation (like calling, hanging up and turning your phone off). These situations are often the line between life and death. As cliche as it sounds, help us help you. Much love, Tumblr fam!

Also, to any of my fellow dispatchers, feel free to add to this. I know that things can vary from one locality to another, so I think any input would be helpful! I tried to just stick to the basics in this post for that reason. 🙂

@therapy101 @thistherapylife @socialworkmemes @all-about-psychology @theangrytherapist @thecalminside could you guys please reblog this to try and circulate correct information about how to receive help in an emergency situation? There is some VERY bad information going around that provides dangerous suggestions in reference to calling 911 and that makes me so afraid for anyone that reads it and thinks that it’s true.

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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