What a 911 Operator Wants You To Know

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Here’s some tips from a friend of mine who is a 911 operator for a  metropolitan area in the Southwest of the US.

As a 911 Operator I want as much accurate, objective, information as possible in the shortest amount of time. Most people don’t realize that they are not the only person calling the police and that most shifts we are pretty slammed with inbound calls.
The information I need:
  1. Where is the emergency? (Exact location > General Intersection > Store Name) This is to determine both jurisdiction as well as to know where to find the person. You’d be shocked to hear how many times someone will respond, “The Gas Station”, as if there was only one in the entire city.
  2. What is the emergency? Limit this to a few words, “I was shot/stabbed/robbed/assaulted/etc”.
  3. When did it happen? (Exact Time Frame) People often respond, “just barely right now”, which is a subjective measurement ranging from one minute ago to fifteen minutes ago. If it just happened I would say, “One minute ago”, so that the operator can move on.
  4. Weapons involved?
  5. Injuries?
  6. Who did it? Name, race, age, height, weight, clothing (from top to bottom, outer layer to inner layers), carrying anything?
  7. Where did the suspect go? Nautical directions: North/South/East/West
  8. How did they leave? In a car (color/make/model, damage to vehicle  bumper stickers, chrome wheels, tinted windows, sun roof, things that stand out if someone looked at it.), on foot/bike/moped
  9. What did he take?
  10. Contact information?
The first three questions are most important in terms of prioritizing calls relative to one another. If we have 1 person answering the phone and 10 phone calls coming in we need to have a system in place to get to the most important calls as quickly as we can.
An emergency to one person is not necessarily an emergency to everyone else. A persons car/home that was burglarized sometime during the day, with no suspect on scene, is a lower priority than someone who was just robbed of something from their person.
Engage:  Have you ever called 911?  Share your experience with us in the comments.  Are you learning things about what to do if you ever need to?  Share with us what you’re learning.
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