During National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week (April 14-20), we celebrate the men and women behind the scenes during life’s emergencies – 911 dispatchers and call takers. These individuals work in a stressful environment, charged with the responsibility of communicating with frightened callers during chaotic situations. They serve as the voice of reason by providing a sense of calm to callers, all while coordinating with emergency medical services, fire and police.
Prevent the Bystander Effect
Many people who need help don’t receive it because of the bystander effect – when other people are present, we assume that someone else will help. This includes calling 911.
A person has a better chance of surviving an emergency when 911 is called early. If you recognize an emergency, it’s crucial that you decide to act and call 911 immediately. Don’t assume someone else will. If you are attempting to provide care, ask another bystander to call 911 by pointing at the person, calling them by their name or shirt color and clearly telling them to call 911.
Best Practices When Calling 911
911 dispatchers and call takers are trained to remain calm and provide assistance during emergency situations. According to the National Emergency Number Association, an estimated 240 million calls are made to 911 in the U.S. each year. Here are some best practices to follow when calling 911.
If you are unsure of whether to call 911 or not, always call. Allow the dispatcher to determine if your situation needs further emergency assistance.
If you call 911 by mistake, don’t hang up. Stay on the line and inform the dispatcher that the call was an accident and there is no emergency.
Stay calm and speak clearly.
Provide your name, location and a description of the emergency.
Give specific location details – street names, landmarks, apartment numbers and nearby business names – to help pinpoint your exact location.
Follow the dispatcher’s instructions on how to give care.
Always hang up last.
To learn more about recognizing and responding to emergencies, find an Instructor near you to get certified in CPR, AED and First Aid.
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