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Calling 911

Calling 911

 

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Requirements

Calling 911

 

Hello! In this lesson, we will learn how to report an emergency on the telephone. Throughout the U.S. and Canada, the telephone number 911 is the emergency telephone number. It can be reached on any telephone by pressing the numbers 9-1-1. It can be reached free of charge from pay telephones by simply lifting the receiver and pressing the numbers 9-1-1.

It is appropriate to report fire, crime, and medical emergencies by calling 9-1-1. In this lesson we will learn what to say when we report each kind of emergency.

When we call 911, an emergency dispatcher responds by saying "9-1-1 Emergency.". The dispatcher might first ask for your emergency or your location.

You should give your name by saying "My name is _____. I am at (location).". Then state the emergency as efficiently as you can. For example, you might say "There is a fire at 211 Cherry Street.".

For a car accident, you might say "There is a two-car accident on Interstate 80 at Exit 242, in the westbound lane.". For a crime in progress, you might say "A masked man just held up the clerk at the grocery store on Washington Avenue.".

For a medical emergency, you might say "A middle-aged woman is on the ground in the yard at 625 Englewood Avenue. She is not moving.". The dispatcher will dispatch the appropriate emergency providers to the location you provide.

The dispatcher will get more information from you by asking you questions while the providers are en route. Sometimes the dispatcher will be answering other 911 calls at the same time, so if you do not hear the dispatcher, wait, and do not hang up until the dispatcher tells you to hang up.

If you hang up, the dispatcher is trained to believe that you are in imminent danger and will act on that belief.

The 911 dispatchers are trained to understand that there might be times when callers can answer only yes or no, for example, if someone nearby is acting in a threatening manner.

The dispatcher may ask "Can you speak freely?", "Are you in immediate danger?", "Is someone threatening you?", "Are you in fear for your life?", Is one person threatening you?", or "Are you being threatened by more than one person?".

In this scenario, Jennifer sees a fire. She calls 911.

911: 911 Emergency, what is your emergency?

Jennifer: This is Jennifer Jones. There is a fire at the intersection of 1st Street and University Avenue.

911: Is it a building fire?

Jennifer: No, two cars are on fire.

911: Are there any people in the cars?

Jennifer: I don’t know. I can't see well enough.

911: Stay clear of the cars. Emergency vehicles are on the way.

Jennifer: Okay.

911: Can you see if anyone is hurt?

Jennifer: No, it looks like people are scared, but not hurt.

911: Do you see the emergency vehicles?

Jennifer: Yes. Thank you.

911: All right Ms. Jones. You can hang up now. The emergency responders are on the scene and they will take over the situation now.

Jennifer: Thank you.

The 911 operator answers the call by saying "911, what is your emergency?". This is the usual way the operator answers a 911 call. Other possibilities might be "911 Emergency, state your location." or "911 Emergency, state your name.".

Jennifer responds by saying "This is Jennifer Jones. There is a fire at the intersection of 1st Street and University Avenue.". Notice that she gives her name, and she succinctly states the nature of the emergency and the location of the emergency. She does not preface her report by saying that she wants to report a fire; rather, she efficiently reports the fire with no social niceties.

The 911 dispatcher wants to know the names, locations, and facts necessary to respond quickly and appropriately to any type of emergency which involves life and safety.

The 911 operator asks "Is it a building fire?". She asks this question to be sure that she knows what kind of equipment and personnel to send to the location. The dispatcher needs to know whether to send a firetruck with a ladder, an ambulance, and proper equipment to deal with hazardous materials. She could have asked "What is on fire?" or "Is this a house fire?". She might have asked "Is your residence on fire?".

Jennifer answers "No, two cars are on fire.". But the situation could be different. She could have said "My house is on fire!" or "An apartment house is on fire!" or "There is a fire at the museum!".

The 911 operator asks "Are there any people in the cars?". The operator wants to know whether to send inhalation equipment and ambulances. She might have asked "Are there any injuries?" or "Is anyone hurt?".

Jennifer answers "I don’t know. I can't see well enough.". She could have said "Yes, there are people in the cars." or "Not in the cars, but there are some injured people outside the cars.".

The 911 operator says "Stay clear of the cars. Emergency vehicles are on the way.". She wants to be sure that the caller, Jennifer, does not become injured by moving too close to the burning cars. She wants to assure her that help will arrive soon. She could have said "Stay away from the fire. Help is coming." or "Don’t go near the cars. I am sending help.".

Jennifer shows understanding by saying "Okay.". Although Jennifer has already reported the problem, she stays on the line with the dispatcher. The dispatcher can hold the phone line open so that she can hear what is happening over the phone. Until the emergency responders arrive, it is important to maintain the connection. In this case, an explosion is possible, the fire could spread, more people could be injured, or someone could take advantage of the furor to commit a crime. So the dispatcher does not give Jennifer permission to hang up the phone.

The 911 operator asks "Can you see if anyone is hurt?". She could have asked many types of questions about the emergency. For example, she could have asked "Can you see if the fire is spreading?" or "Can you see if anyone is injured?".

Jennifer answers "No, it looks like people are scared, but not hurt.". She could have said "It seems that people are afraid, but not injured." or "I don't think anyone is hurt, but people are frightened.".

The 911 operator asks "Do you see the emergency vehicles?". She could have asked "Do you see the firetrucks?" or "Do you see the ambulances?" or "Do you see the squad cars?" or "Can you see the police cars?".

Jennifer answers "Yes, thank you.". She is thanking the dispatcher for sending the emergency vehicles. She could have said "Yes. Thank you for sending them.".

The 911 operator says "All right Ms. Jones. You can hang up now. The emergency responders are on the scene and they will take over the situation now.". The dispatcher uses the title "Ms. Jones.". When Jennifer called 911, she identified herself as Jennifer Jones. The operator does not know if Jennifer is married or unmarried. So she does not know if Jennifer is "Miss Jones", an unmarried woman, or "Mrs. Jones, a married woman. So she uses the title "Ms.", which is a title for either an unmarried or a married woman. She gives Jennifer permission to hang up the phone when she says "You can hang up now.". She could have said "It is all right for you to hang up now." or "You can disconnect now.". She says that the "emergency responders" – which could be "firefighters, police officers", or "emergency medical responders" are "on the scene", which means they are at the location of the emergency.

Jennifer thanks the 911 operator and hangs up the phone.
Very good! Now you are able to make a 911 emergency call.