We have all watched a television show or movie that involves a horrific injury. Be it a car crash, a GSW (gunshot wound), or a natural disaster, the scenes are pretty typical. Among the chaos, there are usually a handful of useless bystanders milling around, witnesses frozen with fear, and a few people that Live the Creed and take charge. Invariably, someone yells out, ‘Call 911!’ Yet, what ACTUALLY happens during that crucial phone call? The better you understand the role of the 911 dispatcher, the better you can help.
911 dispatchers are trained professionals who coordinate resources to get citizens the help they need. A dispatcher’s mantra can be summed up as ‘Location, Situation, Information.’ The single most important component a dispatcher needs is the LOCATION of the emergency. This might be an address, an intersection, a business, or even a GPS location. If you want to Live the Creed, KNOW WHERE YOU ARE. Make sure your family knows their address and cardinal directions, be familiar with the streets you travel, and know the names of parks or natural areas you use. Due to various factors, a cell phone-based location that 911 receives may not be accurate, so don’t rely on them.
It may seem as though the dispatcher is asking WAY too many questions. However, remember two things. First, these questions are necessary for the safety of the responding personnel, victims, and the caller, and to ensure that the proper resources are sent. Second, during this questioning, emergency help has usually already been dispatched. Emergency personnel are updated as the caller provides the dispatcher with information, especially on medical calls and those involving crimes in progress. A detail that may seem insignificant to a caller can be vital to responders.
In the spirit of the second to last line of The Creed, if you find another in need of help, your knowledge and skills may be as simple as making a phone call. Know what to expect, stay calm, and be prepared.