911 know-how important to efficient response

Posted: Thursday, April 27, 2000

Calling 911 is significant in the event of an emergency. Alaska State Troopers dispatcher Tammy Goggia offered a few tips on when to call 911 and what to do during the phone call. Because calls increase during the summer months, it is important to know calling guidelines.

Dial 911 only in an emergency. If it is not an emergency, dial the specific agency needed, as listed in the phone directory.

In a nutshell, she said, emergencies that are in progress warranting a 911 call are those in which lives or property are in danger.

"We also encourage people to call about drunk drivers," she said.

A barking dog or an after-the-fact accident -- an accident happening earlier in the day, are not problems that 911 should not be involved in.

If 911 is accidentally dialed, stay on the line and let the dispatcher know it was an accidental call. The 911 dispatcher is required to follow up on all 911 calls and verify the existence of an emergency. If the dispatchers are unable to communicate with someone at the residence, they will dispatch police to check on the status.

When making a call to 911, let the call-taker ask questions. They have been trained to ask specific questions that will help prioritize the incident and send the appropriate agencies to assist.

"We need to get all of the questions answered," she said.

During calls in progress, the dispatcher is keeping track of changes that affect response.

When reporting a medical problem, the dispatcher will ask several important questions relating to the medical problems a patient is having. The questions are asked in order to provide the ambulance crew a clear, concise picture as to what is occurring at the scene. This does not delay the notification of the responding units.

Listen to the 911 dispatcher's instructions for assistance. The dispatcher may assist in performing CPR or direct in another action.

If calling by a cellular phone, be prepared to describe the location of the distress. Look for distinguishing landmarks, businesses and milepost markers to convey to the dispatcher. Be aware of the name of the last city or town you may have last passed through. If there is no emergency, dial *711 for local law enforcement.

Dialing *711 is a free call from a cell phone. The call will ring into the nearest law enforcement agency.

Don't hang up until advised to do so by the dispatcher.

Try and remain calm. Talk slowly and in a clear, concise voice. The 911 dispatcher may ask for repetition of information. This is not to annoy the caller, it is done to verify that the dispatcher has the correct information.

"It is to their (callers) benefit to remain calm," Goggia said.

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