These are words no one ever wants to say or hear. The fact remains, that you may. I know this for two reasons – I have had to call 911 (several times) and I used to be a 911 dispatcher (ambulance only). There are more than a few things I learned about calling 911 while working for them that I otherwise would not have ever known, and I am going to pass that knowledge on to you, dear reader. Most are common sense. So….onto the Safety Saturday Tips!!!
– Learn and teach nine-one-one, not 911. Silly for me to say, I know, but in a true crisis, people say some really strange things, and sometimes logic goes right out the window. It is nine-one-one. Not nine-eleven. There is no nine-eleven on the phone.
– Remain calm. It is hard. I KNOW it is hard. You (possibly) will want to cry, scream and will someone to get to you faster. I assure you, they are on the way before you even know it. If you are calm, the dispatcher can help you help the person in need. Being calm will also help you to…..
– State your address and phone number clearly. Usually your address will show up because it is linked to your phone number and you may only need to verify it. Unless technology has changed, this only holds true for a land line. If you call 911 on your cell phone, no address comes through.
– Answer the questions asked of you, no matter how dumb they may seem. Yes, the dispatcher heard you say that someone has sliced their leg open something horrible and can even hear them screaming in the background. So when you are asked if they are conscious, answer the question. When they ask if they are breathing, answer the question. When they ask if they have a pulse, answer the question (I will explain more about this later).
– Follow the directions the dispatcher gives you. And please, no matter what…..
– DO NOT HANG UP! Please. Unless the dispatcher tells you to.
A couple of other things that can be helpful –
– Make sure your street address is clear on your home or property or both.
– For each person in the home have a list of medications and any allergies written down and keep it in an easily accessible place. The paramedics will want this.
– If able, open the door to help identify the home.
– If there is more than one person besides the person in need, send them outside (if there is someone there who is in a panic, they are a good person to send outside to wait for help).
– Assure the person in need that help is on the way.
While the tips above are specific to medical assistance, I am pretty sure they would translate over to police and fire.
Some tips just for kids.
– Teach them nine-one-one, your address and phone number. ParkingPal’s Emergency phone list can be a good tool to keep handy.
– If someone in the home has a medical condition, teach them that as well.
– Set up a 911 drill at home (without actually calling). The main reason to make sure they know the address.
– Check if your city has any kind of Safety Day. If they do, take your kids and let them meet your city’s police officers, fire fighters, paramedics and EMT’s. Let them get to know them as real people and not just cool cars with the lights and sirens. Because Emergency Vehicles are cool, until one gets behind you with the lights going because you were driving just a little too fast on the highway, not that I know that from experience.
Please keep in mind that different counties probably have different 911 systems, and what I say may not be correct for your county – I am only familiar with one type. The system I used had computer generated questions based on the initial complaint. The system would not let us go onto the next question without an answer. The first questions being breathing, pulse and consciousness. Because these are the MOST IMPORTANT ONES (for a medical emergency) Again, I do not know if all emergency systems work this same way.