Calling 9-1-1 can be a very stressful event. We want to provide information to help you better understand what to expect when you dial 9-1-1 for medical assistance.
When someone calls 9-1-1, the call is taken by a Primary PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point). This is typically a local law enforcement agency or local government agency. They will determine the need for fire, EMS, or law enforcement. If the need is for an ambulance, your call might be transferred to a Secondary PSAP, like LifeNet. If you do get transferred, you will be asked to provide your address and phone number again. At this point, your full information will be taken and an ambulance sent for your assistance.
The first question the call taker will ask is “What is the address of your emergency?”
Although, today’s technology for 9-1-1 is advanced, it is not perfect. Therefore, an address must be confirmed in case the call is disconnected, the responders will at least know where to go.
Once the address is obtained and verified, the dispatcher will be notified via computer. They will notify the closest most appropriate ambulance to respond to the scene. Verification of the address and phone number is very important. When people are in emergency situations, there is a possibility that phone numbers or house numbers can be inadvertently transposed by the caller.
Although the nature of the emergency is part of the vital information the 9-1-1 call taker will need, the location of the emergency is of the utmost importance.
If you are unable to provide an exact address, giving the nearest street or highway intersection, a description of the location, name of a business, or any landmarks with be helpful in locating you.
After the address has been confirmed and the ambulance is responding, you will be asked for your call back number. This is very important as well, should the 911 operator need to regain contact with you, if the call is disconnected.
At LifeNet, each emergency telecommunicator is certified with the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch as an Emergency Medical Dispatcher. They are able to triage the patient over the phone, using a standardized protocol system known as Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS). The caller is asked a series of key questions, directly related to the patient’s chief complaint. These questions, in no way, delay the response of the ambulance. While you are answering the call taker’s questions, another person is talking to the crew on the ambulance, updating the paramedics of the patient’s condition.
The answers given by the caller help the call taker gather as much information as possible to be certain the right instructions are given in the right way at the right time. They will also know if additional resources are needed, such as fire department, first responders, law enforcement, or possibly even a medical helicopter.
Once all the information is gathered, the call-taker will give important instructions to assist the patient until help arrives. Stay on the line with 9-1-1 until the call taker instructs you it is safe to disconnect.
Here are a few important tips to remember in the event you have to call 9-1-1:
1. Stay calm
By remaining calm and speaking clearly, the call taker will be able to get accurate information and process the call as quickly as possible.
2. Know your location and callback number
This will allow the 9-1-1 call taker to enter the address for the dispatcher to be able to give an accurate location for the responders.
3. Answer the questions asked by the call taker
Again, speak as clearly and calmly as possible. The information given by the caller determines what pre-arrival instructions are given over the phone by the call taker until responders arrive on scene.
Follow the directions and instructionsThe call taker will be giving instructions prior to medical responders arriving on scene. It is very important to follow these instructions. Remember, these instructions DO NOT delay the response of the ambulance.
4. Do not hang up until directed to do so by the call-taker.
If you accidentally call 9-1-1, DO NOT HANG UP. Stay on the line to let the call-taker know it was unintentional and that help is not needed.
If you ever question if you should call 9-1-1, make the call. It’s much better for help to arrive and assess the patient, than to need help and not get it.