SAFE IN 60

Safe in 60: What to expect when you call 911

Mar 26, 2018, 7:00 AM | Updated: 11:50 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The average American will have to call 911 at least once in their lifetime. There is a reason dispatchers ask the questions they do, and in what order.

Because time is of the essence when you call 911, try and stay as calm as possible and listen carefully to the questions being asked by the dispatcher. Know your location, answer the questions and follow instructions in order to get help as quickly as possible.

First, the dispatcher will ask you the address of the emergency first. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. Most people call from cell phones, which means there is no physical address showing for the dispatcher. Instead, they usually see the location of the closest cell tower to your position – which can be several hundred meters away from your location. And imagine if you call from a five story building – they need to know exactly how to find you.
  2. By getting the address first, they can get help on the way while they gather more information from you.
  3. If you don’t know where you are, look for landmarks, street signs or buildings.

Next, they will ask for your callback number, just in case you become disconnected.

They will then ask you detailed questions about the emergency.

Remember – don’t tell them to hurry. They are well aware time is of the essence.

This is likely a very stressful or terrifying time in your life, but the more calm you remain, the quicker help can be dispatched to you.

When to call 911:

When there is a threat to life or property. For example, during a fire, medical emergency, if you are a victim or witness to a crime, or if you see or are involved in a traffic accident.

When not to call 911:

Any situation that is NOT an emergency or not listed above.  Dispatchers receive calls several times a day from people asking for bus schedules, movie times and to look up phone numbers. This holds up the line for people experiencing a real emergency.

If you call 911:

Seconds count when you are calling 911 so try and gather your composure as much as possible before you call so the dispatcher can understand you and get first responders on their way to you.

Dispatchers follow a set pattern of questions that are in order of importance. This helps when getting the most pertinent information out to police or medical personnel as they are responding to the location.

First responders will receive that information over the radio and will also receive it on their computers in their cars so they can refer back to it at any time.

If you have witnessed a crime, try and remember as much detail of the incident as possible, including the description of the vehicle or suspect. The more information you can relay the better. However, never put yourself in danger to get information.

If you or your child accidentally calls 911, don’t hang up. If you do, dispatch will call you back to verify whether there is an emergency or not. If you don’t answer, officers will be sent to make sure everything is OK and that will take them away from other emergencies they need to be responding to.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Safe in 60

FILE: Goolsby Elementary School third grader Ava Dweck (L), 9, and fourth grader Luca Conrad, 10, t...
Robin Heiden, KSL TV

Safe in 60: Keeping children safe online during new school year

Students are heading back to school across Utah, and it's a good time for parents to talk with their kids about online safety.
1 year ago
(KSL TV)...
Robin Heiden, KSL TV

How To ‘Summer Safely’ On Utah’s Roads

Historically, Memorial Day to Labor Day is considered the deadliest time on Utah roads when fatal crashes nearly double.
1 year ago
...
Robin Heiden, KSL TV

Five Poisonous Plants To Watch Out For In Utah

Every year around this time, Utah Poison Control sees an uptick in cases in which adults and children are exposed to poisonous plants or mushrooms.
1 year ago
...
Robin Heiden

How To Pick The Right Helmet For Your Child

Make sure you take time to find a good helmet — they reduce the risk of head injury by 88%.
1 year ago
...
Robin Heiden, KSL TV

Tips For Drivers, Motorcyclists To Safely Share The Road

Motorcycle riders are 28 times more likely to die in a traffic collision than occupants in passenger cars.
1 year ago
FILE (Dan Spindle/KSL TV)...
Robin Heiden, KSL TV

5 Steps To Take To Prevent A Car Burglary

Car burglary numbers climbed 12% last year, and these types of crimes are often difficult for police to solve.
1 year ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Safe in 60: What to expect when you call 911