Editor’s note: This is the final story in a series on National 9-1-1 Education Month.
PRINCETON – Although dialing 9-1-1 is not an everyday necessity, it’s important to prepare for it just in case and know the information a dispatcher will need to get from you in order to send help as fast as possible.
According to Bureau Emergency Communications (BuEComm), an informed caller is 9-1-1’s best caller.
“In an emergency, seconds matter, so being knowledgeable and prepared can make all the difference,” a BuEComm information pamphlet stated.
Beginning with the basics, Dawn Porter, BuEComm’s 9-1-1 education coordinator, said everyone should post their address and phone number near their home phone.
“If you have a babysitter at your house and you’re out for the evening and your child gets injured, will your babysitter know what the address is?” Porter questioned. “If you post that information close to your phone … they will have it right there when they have to make the call ... The most important thing is if someone can give us an address during the call,” Porter said.
Unless a call comes in on a landline, BuEComm will not have a pinpointed address of where the call is coming from. Television has provided misconceptions that 9-1-1 can pinpoint exactly where callers are standing, but in reality it doesn’t happen like that, Porter said.
“Just because they can do it on CSI doesn’t mean it’s going to happen in Princeton,” she said.
Staying on the phone with the dispatcher and answering the series of questions they ask is another important tip to remember.
“We get a lot of people who say, ‘Oh, just come on and send help,’” Diana Stiles, BuEComm director said. “What they don’t understand is (dispatchers) have the training and ability to offer you pre-arrival instructions.”
Stiles explained the reasons behind the series of questions. The first is to stabilize the scene and get every bit of information that will help first responders be prepared. The second is to give a calming presence to the caller to let them know someone is there with them. The third is to give instructions that could save a life.
“We don’t ask those questions to irritate you or seem nosy and get into your business, but really and truthfully to give you the best care that we can,” Stiles said.
Callers in Bureau County also should remember they live in a rural area where most first responders and firefighters are volunteers and are not in their station 24-hours a day. Sometimes getting to a scene is more involved than just receiving a call and getting to where they are needed.
Additional advice for seniors and 9-1-1
Seniors living on fixed incomes may have decided to bundle their Internet, cable and phone into one bill as a money-saving option. One thing to remember is if the cable or Internet fails, so will the phone. Stiles recommends elderly couples or families living with a disabled person to rethink giving up a landline phone – which will work during a power outage.
“Even if you keep it there for nothing but to call 9-1-1, than I would rather figure a way to spend that extra $35 a month or whatever the cost may be,” she said.
Porter mentioned many seniors also tend to think they’re “bothering” 9-1-1 when they have an emergency. She said a lot of times seniors call their children first, which results in their children calling 9-1-1 for them. If the child happens to not know their parents’ address, this could be a problem.
“They need to call 9-1-1 and know they are not bothering us,” Porter said.
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