9-1-1 tips 12/11/12

When you call 9-1-1, and the call is not picked up right away, don’t hang up and dial again.  The phone system puts the calls in a queue, and the next call in that queue is presented to the 9-1-1 operators as they pick up lines.  If you hang up and dial again, you go to the end of that queue.  Meanwhile, the calls you hung up on continue to ring in the 9-1-1 center, and must be answered.  We then end up wasting time trying determine if the dead line is an emergency that needs to be dealt with, or is simply a misdial or hangup.

Tonight we had someone call 9-1-1 in a bit of a panic, and for some reason they had hung up the phone and redialed four times in rapid succession.  This created four lines ringing virtually at once in our center, each requiring the attention of an operator.  Once we verified that the sudden influx of multiple calls was a single incident, on the fourth call, we were able to dispatch the appropriate assistance.

So remember, if you’ve dialed 9-1-1, stay on the line until an operator answers.  Hanging up and dialing again only puts you at the end of any queue of callers, and could needlessly delay response to your emergency.

Also very important, if you’re calling on your cell phone, know where you are!  We might or might not get GPS coordinates, and they might or might not be accurate.  If you’re in an apartment complex, it won’t tell us if you’re upstairs or down, or in the unit on the left or the right.  You need to be able to tell us where you are.  Also, try not to yell, the audio circuits on cell phones really can’t handle yelling, and all we hear is unintelligible screaming.

This blog post is not an official posting by any agency in the area, it’s just the opinion and suggestion of a 9-1-1 dispatcher.  Help us help you.  Thanks.

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