“9-1-1, what is your emergency?”
The Huntington Beach Police Department Dispatch Center is a 24/7 operation staffed with up to six dispatchers. Approximately 275,000 calls come into the Center annually, and dispatchers are ready and prepared to screen, and take appropriate action to alert law enforcement, fire, and/or Emergency Medical Services. In addition, they have only a few seconds to determine the nature and location of the emergency, as well as assign a priority to the call. Dispatchers are critical in emergency communications and provide essential, life-saving emergency services to the public.
Calling 9-1-1 in an emergency can bring immediate help from first responders and save lives. Knowing how and when to make a 9-1-1 call can make all the difference in a stressful situation. When calling 9-1-1, do your best to take a deep breath, stay calm, focus, and answer all the questions thoroughly.
1. What is happening?
2. Where is the emergency?
3. Who is the caller, and/or who are they calling about?
4. How the emergency occurred.
Correspondingly, the dispatcher must know if weapons are involved, if any hazards may threaten the responders or citizens, or if immediate injuries require an ambulance. It is important to stay on the line with the dispatcher until they instruct you to hang up. If you disconnect in the middle of the call, dispatchers are required to call back to determine if the emergency is still taking place. If no one answers, police will drive to the location or address. Lastly, it may feel like a 9-1-1 call takes a long time, especially if an emergency prompts the call. Dispatchers often enter information about your call while simultaneously alerting the appropriate emergency services. Allow them the time to get all the facts.
If you ever need to call 9-1-1, try to remember the words underlined above. You may save a life and make a dispatcher’s life a little easier too!