When an emergency, such as a fire occurs, it’s easy to become panicked and confused. As a result, many 9-1-1 calls made to emergency dispatchers are often not complete, thus hindering the fire department’s ability to arrive quickly to the scene. By knowing what to expect when you call 9-1-1 and making a few simple preparations, you can steer clear of the common mistakes people make when they place an emergency phone call.
• Keep the 9-1-1 number posted on every telephone in your house and ask neighbors to do the same. Make the call from inside your home only if you are trapped. Otherwise, get out, report to your family’s agreed upon meeting place, and call the fire department from a neighbor’s phone or cell phone.
• Speak clearly and calmly. Give the dispatcher the location of the emergency and a brief description of the incident you are reporting. Be prepared to answer questions such as location, address, name, and telephone number. Stay on the phone until you have answered all the dispatcher’s questions and he or she says it’s OK to hang up. Help is being dispatched at the same time the call taker is continuing to gather additional information. If your call is a medical emergency, the dispatcher will provide pre-arrival medical instructions telling you what to do before medics arrive.
• Do not program 9-1-1 into your phone. It is too easy to accidentally call the number. If you dial 9-1-1 in error, DO NOT hang up. With the enhanced 9-1-1 features in our area, the caller’s address and telephone number is automatically identified for the dispatcher’s reference. Instead, stay on the line and let the dispatcher know you made a mistake. Otherwise he/she will send emergency crews to your address and needlessly tie up resources from real emergencies.
Guest Contributor & Article Credits: Fire Marshal Alan Perkins, CFPS (Live Safe Foundation, Liaison to the Fire Department Community) – Alan’s career in the fire service spans more than 30 years. He is a Certified Fire Protection Specialist through the National Fire Protection Association and a member of numerous similar safety organizations. Alan consults with numerous fire departments throughout Ohio and in 2005 was chosen by the Ohio Department of Health as the fire service member on the Ohio School Inspection Advisory Committee. He was also awarded Ohio Fire Official of the Year in 2009 by the Ohio Building Officials Association. Alan is the Fire Marshal for the Washington Township Fire Department in Dublin, Ohio. The Washington Township Fire Department provides fire prevention, fire suppression, emergency medical services, and education and safety programs for Washington Township, which encompasses parts of Franklin, Delaware and Union Counties.
Live Safe Foundation is an Ohio based non-profit organization (501c3), devoted to making and fire and life safety education, awareness initiatives and life saving tools available on a broad basis to communities, campuses, and institutions in an effort to reduce national fire fatalities and fire losses.