I talked in a previous post about the first thing we want to know when you are calling 911 – WHERE ARE YOU?
Now we have the next most important question when you are calling 911 -WHAT IS YOUR EMERGENCY?
And that is exactly how I will ask you the question – “What is your emergency?” I want to know if you need police, fire, or medical help. So tell me, briefly, what you need. It’s helpful for me if you “cut to the chase” – seconds count, and I am not a mind reader. Something like, “My husband has fallen, and he broke his leg.” That gives me a good idea of what you’re dealing with and the type of help you need.
Also, when I am entering the information for the medics and/or law enforcement responders, I start with what we call the “chief complaint” on the first line. They like it that way. It gives them a snapshot of the emergency. Kinda like a headline in a newspaper. Then I fill in the details as you and I continue our conversation.
I ask a lot of questions, and I ask them in a certain order, because that ‘s what is most helpful for the medics and/or law enforcement responders. We have a list of the “Six W’s” that we go through: Where, What, When, Who, Why and Weapons. And we go pretty much in that order, except that sometimes the “weapons” questions gets asked right after the “who” question – for officer safety reasons, and for your safety. More on that in a later post.
We think of it as an upside down triangle; the most important info at the top, then tapering down to the details – “painting the picture,” if you will.
I am typing while I am talking to you – dispatchers and call takers are ninja multi-taskers – so don’t think my asking questions is slowing down the response. Often, I have the call in and dispatched as soon as I know the location and “chief complaint” – so don’t be yelling at me to hurry up and get them to your location. Chances are, they are already on their way!
So, to repeat – don’t blather, and ramble. I know it’s difficult, but resist the urge to get every piece of information out there all at once. The best thing you can do when you are calling 911 is listen carefully to the questions you are asked, and try to answer them calmly and quickly. That saves time for both of us, and gets help to you much more quickly. And that’s a goal that both of us can agree on. 🙂