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It seems that people nationwide do not know how or when to use 911. People are constantly calling 911 for information and non-emergency calls.

I am not sure if the public is not educated enough on the proper use of 911 or the public in general is just lazy. There are non-emergency numbers posted in every phone book all across the nation and a little thing known at 411, information, can give people these numbers as well. People can even use the new Google information at 1-800-466-4411.

People apparently do not realize that every time they call 911 for something such as their auto being broken into sometime overnight and a purse or laptop was taken because they left it in the auto and they haven’t a clue who did it, they may be taking an emergency dispatcher away from someone calling because a loved one is having a heart attack.

Of course i cannot begin to understand why anyone would leave anything of value in a vehicle in the first place unless it was locked inside the trunk. It is asking for trouble. Obviously the person isn’t thinking at all, but that is another rant entirely.

Another thing that ties up 911 lines are auto accidents on a busy street or highway. Stop and think for a minute. If you did NOT witness this accident and it is in the middle of the day when traffic is heavy and you happen upon an accident or it occurred several cars up in front of you, do you call 911? How many other people do you think have a cell phone and will be calling? There are 6.8 billion people in the world and 5 billion of them currently have a cell phone. This does not include everyone that has a non-service cell phone that can only dial 911. Usually a 911 center is inundated with calls about accidents during peak traffic times when traffic is heavy, which can sometimes delay emergency response by getting the call dispatched.

So, people really need to think, should I call? A rule of thumb is if traffic is heavy, you did not witness the accident and cannot provide details other than it being a car wreck, you probably shouldn’t call. Now, if you are on a highway in the middle of the night with very few cars around and you come upon an accident, definitely call as there is no way to determine how long the accident has been there and since traffic is light, there may not have been anyone else report it, especially if the people in the accident are injured. It is just a matter of thinking.

I also mentioned that cell phones with no service, meaning you took the sim card out of it or you no longer use that phone or cell service, but has a charged battery and the phone will turn on CAN be used to dial 911. I recommend people maybe putting an old cell phone with a charged battery in their glove box for emergencies (prefer a newer model with gps capabilities as it can be tracked) and check the charge occasionally. It can be used to call 911. Let me repeat that, A WORKING CELL PHONE WITH A CHARGED BATTERY BUT HAS NO SERVICE PROVIDER/CONTRACT/SIM CARD CAN BE USED TO CALL 911. Please remember that when you give these phones to babies. toddlers and little kids to play with. There are numerous calls received at 911 centers by kids that are playing with these phones because people do not realize they can be used for 911.

If you read closely above, you may be asking yourself, “did I just read that cell phones can be tracked?” Yes, you did. With technology, many PSAP/911 centers are upgrading to equipment that can track cell phones by using gps and/or triangulation, depending on the wireless provider, to locate the position of the cell phone. Used in conjunction with a mapping system that most upgraded 911 centers have, your position can be located by the dispatcher and you can be tracked just by the click of a button if you are moving. This is why I say to put a newer no service cell in your car that can be tracked. If you were to have an accident and your cell phone is lost somewhere in the car after the accident, and you can reach the glove box, you can turn the phone on and call 911. If you are lucky to be in an area where the 911 center has up to date equipment, they can find you even if you do not know where you are. Yes, I just said “if you are lucky enough to be in an area” where the equipment is up to date. Not all 911 centers can do this but officials are pushing for them to upgrade. It has saved lives.

One more piece of information about 911. Yes, 911 is nationwide. No, you cannot call 911 in one state and be expected to talk to someone in another state. 911 centers are local, usually by county or region/metro. So, if you are talking to a family member that is in Williamsport, PA and you are at home in Jacksonville, FL, and something happens to that family member while you are on the phone with them and you want to call their local police/ems to check on them, you will get Jacksonville 911 if you call 911 because that is where you are. There are no special buttons that can be pushed to automatically transfer you to Williamsport 911. Your local 911 center may give you the number, but only after they have googled it. So, save time, google the numbers yourself and cut out tying up your local center. Just a little info about 911.

With all of the above being said, I have taken some information from the Wood County, WV 911 web site about calling 911 and hope that you will read it and share it with family and friends.

Prepare to educate yourself below.

What is an Emergency?

“An event or occurrence demanding immediate action; or any condition endangering or thought to be endangering life or property”

Emergency

* Accidents with Injuries
* Fire (or smell of smoke)
* Crime in Progress
* Breathing Problems
* Choking/unconscious person
* Poisoning
* Drowning
* Stabbing, shooting
* Fights or displays of weapons
* Other life-threatening situations

Not An Emergency

* Minor accidents (no injuries)
* Barking dogs
* Late report of crime
* Power outage during a storm
* Abandoned vehicle
* Loud Parties
* Weather and road conditions
* Keys locked in vehicle
* Runaways
* Legal advice

CALLING 911

DO NOT call 9-1-1 for information, directory assistance, when you’re bored and just want to talk, for paying tickets, for your pet, as a prank.

What About 9-1-1 Prank Calls?

It’s a prank call when someone calls 9-1-1 for a joke, or calls 9-1-1 and hangs up. Prank calls not only waste time and money, but can also be dangerous. If 9-1-1 lines or Telecommunicators are busy with prank calls, someone with a real emergency may not be able to get the help they need. In most places, it’s against the law to make prank 9-1-1 calls.

If you call 9-1-1 by mistake, DO NOT hang up. Tell the Telecommunicator what happened so they know there is not an emergency.

Dialing Tips and Procedures

If an emergency situation arises (a crime, a fire, a serious injury or illness) ask yourself whether POLICE, FIRE DEPARTMENT, or MEDICAL assistance is needed RIGHT NOW to protect life or property. If the answer is yes, then immediately dial 9-1-1 and tell the Telecommunicator what has happened or is happening. If you are ever in doubt of whether a situation is an emergency you should call 9-1-1. It’s better to be safe and let the 9-1-1 Telecommunicator determine if you need emergency assistance.

When Dialing 911 You Should

* Stay calm. Give your name, location, and nature of the emergency.
* Listen carefully to the Telecommunicator for helpful information.
* Answer the Telecommunicator’s questions as accurately as possible. Speak clearly and slowly.
* NEVER hang up on the 9-1-1 Telecommunicator until you are told to do so.
* If there’s a fire, stay low in the smoke and get out of the house. Call from a neighbor’s house or pay phone.

Ideas to Help at Home

* Keep your phone at an easy to reach level, like on the coffee table.
* A cordless phone offers you mobility in your home.
* Write your address and telephone number in large print on or near your phone.
* Make sure your address is on the FRONT of your house.
* Do not program 9-1-1 into the speed dial. It can inadvertently be dialed.
* TEACH your children how to use 9-1-1 for emergencies.

Hearing/Speech Impaired Callers

Communications centers that answer 9-1-1 calls have special text telephones to respond to 9-1-1 calls from deaf or hearing/speech impaired callers.If a caller uses a TTY/TDD, the caller should:

* Stay calm, place the phone receiver in the TTY, dial 9-1-1.
* After the call is answered, press the TTY keys several times. This may help shorten the time necessary to respond to the call.
* Give the telecommunicator time to connect their TTY. If necessary, press the TTY keys again. The 9-1-1 telecommunicator should answer and type “GA” for go ahead.
* Tell the telecommunicator what the emergency is and what assistance you require; tell him or her if you need the fire department, police, or EMS. Give your name, phone number, and the address where help is needed.
* Stay on the telephone if it is safe. Answer the telecommunicator’s questions.

Types of Phones You Can Use

* Touch Tone
* Cordless
* Rotary
* Cellular/Mobile
* Pay Phones (No money is needed–simply press the numbers 9-1-1)
* TDD/TTY (Deaf and Hearing/Speech Impaired)

Calling 911 on a Cellular Phone

* If you are in your vehicle, pull off to the side of the road
* Dial 9-1-1
* Tell the Telecommunicator the location of the emergency and your call back cellular phone number.
* Be Patient.

Ready to Call 911?

9-1-1 Telecommunicators are trained to get as much information as possible regarding 9-1-1 calls. To be ready to answer their questions, read these examples of the three most common 9-1-1 calls:

* Automobile Accident
o Give the Street and block number or the nearest major location.
o Tell if there are injuries.
o Report information such as fuel spills, possible fire danger, etc.
* Suspicious Person
o Give the sex, race, age of the person(s).
o Give a clothing description.
o Describe the suspicious activity.
* Suspicious Vehicle
o Get the vehicle description, color, make, model, year, and anything unusual about the vehicle. Try to tell all that you can.
o Are there people in the vehicle? If so, how many? Age? Race? Sex? Clothing description?
o Is the vehicle parked or moving? If it’s moving, tell the direction of travel.

What to do if you can’t speak

* Stay calm
* Dial 9-1-1
* Either leave the phone hanging or make some sort of noise to let the dispatcher know there is an emergency.

In an emergency, remember to…

* Dial 9-1-1
* Stay Calm
* State which emergency service you need: Police/Sheriff, Fire Department, Emergency Medical Service
* Speak Clearly
* State your emergency
* State your address–it’s very important to verify your address

Remember reasons to call 9-1-1 are:

* Crimes in progress (this means shots fired, disturbances, suspicious persons or activities, crimes involving serious injury)
* Accidents, accidents with injury
* Life and Death Situations
* Medical Emergencies
* Someone is Injured
* To Prevent a Crime
* To Report a Fire

Tips for Seniors

* Invest in a touch-tone phone with large, easy-to-read numbers. Put a DIAL 9-1-1 reminder next to the phone.
* Keep your medical history and a list of the medications you are taking in an envelope taped to your refrigerator with your doctor’s name and phone number on it.
* Do not dial “0” for help. DIAL 9-1-1

Download the 911 Information Sheet

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