April is a big month for 9-1-1. Not only do 9-1-1 educators have the opportunity to spread emergency services information all month long, but they also have the opportunity to show major appreciation to telecommunicators during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week (April 13-19, 2014).
For those of you who do not know, telecommunicators are individuals who work for an emergency service provider (usually 9-1-1) and are qualified to answer incoming emergency telephone calls and provide for the appropriate emergency response. They work hard each and every day to make sure citizens get the best emergency services and they are a very important part of the community!
In 1991, Congress recognized their efforts and created a week distinguishing who they are and the importance the play in our society. Then, in 2008, the House of Representatives passed a resolution to increase national awareness about the importance and appropriate use of 9-1-1. By creating a month dedicated to 9-1-1 education, Congress is able to encourage annual public awareness events, public advertising campaigns, target outreach activities and provide training for parents and teachers.Below, we have compiled some important messages and current issues that the public should be more aware of so that they can get the most out of 9-1-1 services.
Call if You Can, Text if You Can’t: Many have the misconception that you can text 9-1-1 for help. We can do everything else through text, so why not contact 9-1-1 this way too? Unfortunately that is not the case. Luckily, many agencies are working hard to make this available across the United States. But for now, this is only available in a very small percentage of the country. So if you see a sign or information in your region promoting that you can text to 9-1-1, then go for it. But if you do not, then please assume you can’t text to 9-1-1 and please call if you need help.Know Your Location: Many people have smart phones these days. And on these smart phones we have maps that show us where we are, so it doesn’t seem farfetched to think that if we have GPS in our phone, then 9-1-1 should be able to find us when we call. This is actually not the case. When you call 9-1-1 from a cell phone/smart phone, dispatchers are only able to see approximately where you are and not specifically where you are located. So, remember to be aware and know your location. Look for mile markers, landmarks, cross streets and addresses on buildings. This information could save your life!
Stay Calm and Ready to Listen: When we call 9-1-1, it is usually for an emergency and this can be a stressful situation. But it is imperative that you stay calm and listen to the call-taker’s questions so that they can properly help you. A lot of people get confused when the call-taker is asking a lot of questions and all they need is help RIGHT THEN. Trust us- the call-taker gets it and the reason they are asking questions is so that they can help you to the best of their ability.As always, do not forget that 9-1-1 is for emergency use only and should never be abused or used for fun. It helps save lives and is an important tool in helping our society to get the aid they need. Call 9-1-1 when you or someone else’s life is in danger, or if there is a crime or fire occurring.