Step 4: Axioms and Afterthoughts
When you have an emergency, time seems to stand still.
The response you have requested cannot possibly arrive fast enough. I have personally needed critical medical recussitation for my father in the past, and hearing the sirens in the distance, it felt like they took literally forever. In reality, from the moment I had called the ambulance had been made aware of the emergency, and started driving as soon as they had enough information to respond. While the call-taker is processing your information into the computer, someone else is working with that data to send you the quickest accurate response possible.
If you dialed 9-1-1 in error, do not hang up the telephone.
Instead, stay on the line and explain to the dispatcher that you dialed by mistake and that you do not have an emergency. You will not get in trouble. If you hang up, a dispatcher will call back to confirm that there is no emergency. If you don't answer, a police officer must be dispatched to confirm that you are OK. This will needlessly take resources away from genuine emergencies.
Do NOT hang up until the dispatcher tells you to.
Critical information that you may not have considered pertinent may have been occluded, resulting in wasted time having to call back.
911 is NOT, and I cannot stress this enough, NOT 411. We do not have xyz phone number. If you don't have a phone book or access to the internet for a directory listing, call 411 or the operator (0).
Do not program 911 into your speed dial
This seems counter-intuitive, but really 911 is very fast to dial by itself - even on a rotary phone. Having a speed dial button assigned to 911 is only inviting accidentally mis-dialing.
Take the battery out if you give an old phone as a toy for a child
When I started it amazed me how many people give their children functional, de-activated cel phones. What they don't realize is that any cel phone, hooked up or not, bill paid or not can still dial. The feds put this in as safety legislation when mobile phones were introduced. It's only a matter of time before the kids will dial through and start a huge investigation of the 'noise in the background'.
After you hang up with the dispatcher (edit, thanks v2vfd for reminder)
You will likely be told a variety of scene preparation instructions. These include, but are NOT limited to:
-Unlock the door.
-Turn on any outside lights.
-If possible, have someone meet the crew; but do not leave the patient alone.
-Put away any family pets. I know you love sharing your dog/cat/alligator but there is a more important task at hand ;-)
-Leave the area immediately.
-Do not carry out anything that is on fire.
-Get others out to safety.
-Assign someone to guide the emergency crews in.
-Do NOT attempt to extinguish the fire, or go back in for possessions.
Police: - There are a hundred instructions, and they apply to very specific situations.
-First priority: Stay safe - hide, be quiet, and/or lock the door.
-Second priority: Preserve evidence - the scene, or clothing etc. Do not touch ANYTHING!
When should/shouldn't I call? What qualifies as an emergency?
This is a touchy subject, and anywhere that could possibly need a disclaimer is here. I take no responsibility for the colloquial accuracy of this information. Wherever you are it's probably different from here, so these are guidelines. Bottom line is if you aren't sure, call.
Unnecessary calls waste limited resources, but it is far safer to call and be wrong, than not call and suffer irrevocable consequences of said delay.
When determined to be non-emergency, call the local listing for the service you require. Some examples of non-emergency calls include but are not limited to:
-Property damage incident.
-Crimes that occurred in the past and the suspect is long gone.
-Hurt wild animal.
-Basement flooding with water
-Cat in a tree - some agencies still send a fire truck to provide this service, some do not, but it is NOT a 911 emergency. Also, whether they use a ladder or a hose is up to them ;-) There's a reason you'll never find a cat skeleton in a tree.
All of the above are definitely incidents that may require a response, but have a better option than 911, be it the power company, police incident complaint line, or bylaw/wildlife enforcement agency.
Emergency calls include:
-Any situation that is not tended to in an immediate fashion will result in serious damage or injuries, loss of life or property, or escalation of X situation.
-Any crime in progress, whether someone is hurt or not.
Thanks for reading - Please vote! Good or bad, I'd like to know what you think!