Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Brief Talk with a 911 Operator

I got this illustration from this site

Over a week after the death of my friend's husband because of heart failure, I happened to talk to the dispatcher or 911 operator who got the call from my friend that very early morning of August 31st, 2013. She did not elaborate what happened (I did not ask her to because I knew it was too much to ask) during the entire course of the call but she said, "It was indeed a heart breaking call".

I asked her how she handles different calls with different cases from of course, different callers. She said she has been working  for 13 years and she still gets emotional at times but she needs to focus because she has been trained to always stay "FOCUS" in order to provide help to the caller.

As the title says, it was just a brief conversation but it left me with many questions in my head about the process of the call, or how does the 911 operator locate the caller's location, things like that.

I searched it online and this is what I have found from The Washingtonian.
  
1. If the call comes from a cell phone, the signal travels to a nearby cell tower and is routed to a company that determines the location of the tower. The company sends the call back to the 911 center and provides the latitude and longitude of the cell tower. This process is virtually instantaneous.

2. If the call comes from a landline, the signal travels directly to the call center and automatically transmits the caller's location.

3. A 911 operator answers the call, and an automated greeting asks, "Where is your emergency?" If the caller doesn't speak English, the operator presses a button to connect to a translating service in California. On average, using a translator adds 40 seconds to the call.

4. The 911 operator confirms the caller's location, which pops up on a map on the operator's computer screen. The operator asks what's wrong and enters a code. All 911 operators memorize codes for more than 100 types of emergencies.

5. The computer system sends all of the information to the appropriate dispatcher—fire/EMS or police. Reaching this step typically takes less than 40 seconds.

6. Meanwhile, the operator follows a script for that type of emergency. All 911 operators are trained to give medical advice, such as how to perform CPR or deliver a baby.

7. The operator stays with the caller, entering additional information into the computer. The dispatcher and units see the updates on their computers. The dispatcher can also add updates.

8.  A message that a call is pending appears on the dispatcher's screen. The dispatcher clicks a button to bring up a list of the units required for that type of emergency—police, fire, or ambulance—along with a list of the units closest to the scene.

9.  The dispatcher radios the units. All units have laptops in their vehicles that display information about the emergency.

10.  The responding units arrive on the scene—typically five to six minutes after the call comes in.

Wow! Amazing, ain't it? 

Hmm. Now I know why Policemen come to an emergency scene that fast! If you can understand Cebuano or Visayan dialect, check this Christmas Party nga Naay Emergency blog. I am one of the witnesses of how fast the Policemen and EMS come to the scene after you dial 911.

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