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Calling 911

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It is estimated that roughly 35% of 911 calls are non-emergencies, whether they are misdials, pranks, or hang-ups. 911 call agents are well-trained individuals who do more than direct first responders. They act as crisis interventionists, and they have to prioritize incoming calls. They also need to have full understanding of the situation so that they can adequately inform first responders about the nature of the incident so that they are as fully prepared as possible. With all that said, let’s learn how we can help 911 dispatchers’ jobs less difficult than they already are.

How to Make a Proper 911 Call

Note: Make sure that you do not have 911 on speed dial. Although this may seem like something vital in an emergency, the truth is that this leads to more misdials. If you do misdial 911, apologize and inform them it was a misdial.

Before making the call, be sure that the situation requires emergency assistance. If you are unsure, call to be safe.

Next, use whatever phone you have available to call 911. It does not matter if it is a landline or cell phone.

Answer the dispatcher’s questions and follow any instructions they give you. Be cooperative. If you do not cooperate, or if you are too panicked, they will not be able to assist you as well as possible.

Stay on the phone as long as the dispatcher requires you to. Do not simply hang up if you accidentally call 911. Make sure they know that there is no emergency.

Remember, if you see an emergency, do not hesitate. In some cases, many people will witness an emergency, and none will call because they assume someone else will take care of it. This is called the bystander effect. A painful example of this is the murder of Katherine “Kitty” Genovese. In 1964, many people witnessed her being attacked, but because they all assumed someone else would take care of it, no one alerted emergency services. As a result, Kitty Genovese died. Fight the bystander effect and take action if you see an emergency.