What happens when you dial 911

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By: Kyle Quick

“Hurry…Call 911…There's been an accident!”  When there is an emergency no one has to think twice about what number to dial, but what happens when someone calls 911.

Have you ever wondered how the 911 system work’s or how fire departments, police, and EMS are notified of an emergency.

Most people probably do not know what takes place from the time a 911 call is answered to when emergency crews arrive.

"911…What is your address of your emergency?"  These are the first words a caller will hear from the 911 dispatcher.  This question is asked to make sure the correct address shown is the same address called from.  Knowing where to send emergency crews is the most vital piece of information needed by dispatchers in order to send help.

While one dispatcher is talking with the caller, their partner begins dispatching fire, EMS, and/or law enforcement at the same time.

Dispatchers are also trained in Emergency Medical Dispatching (EMD).  EMD allows a dispatcher to give live saving instruction over the phone until help arrives.  One example is giving step-by-step instructions on how to perform CPR. 

How are Fire and EMS notified?

A large majority of dispatch centers handle 911 calls for multiple agencies.  For example, both Gerald and New Haven departments are dispatched by Franklin County Communications.

Each department has a different set of “tones” set off by the dispatcher, meaning they are broadcasted on a specific frequency.  The “tones” cause that particular department’s pager to go off followed by a dispatcher telling them where to go and the type of emergency.

Help reduce the number of 911 calls.

911 centers handle hundreds and even thousands of calls each day but some of these calls could be avoided.  Younger children love to play with their parents old cell phones but what most people are unaware of is even though a phone is deactivated, you can still call 911 with it.  Make sure to take out the battery before letting a child play with an old cell phone.

This article is a very brief overview about the events taking place when 911 is dialed.  We are also working on a story about possible issues that could affect the future of Franklin County's 911 system.