Ever get fed up? I do. When I started this blog I was all gun ho about talking about Emergency Communications and Emergency Medical Services. As time went on it was pretty clear that the blog was becoming more and more about EMS and not necessarily about the communications aspect like it was supposed to be. Honestly my passion is EMS and while I don’t do it full time anymore the one shift a week (or sometimes less) that I do just picks me right back up. Even if I’m giving up one of my days off to work this extra shift it’s still like a day off from the 911 Center.
Communications is tough it’s not easy to deal with people and to get them to cooperate in horrible situations or to get the people who are just wasting resources because they want something taken care of NOW. You have to love the people who call 911 and when trying to get basic information like the address to send units and what the problem is to determine what resources to send that they have no interest. “Stop asking me all these questions and just send help!“ Well that’s all well in good but it’s alarming how many times I have to say: “I need to know the address so I can send you help.”
People assume things… “You got all that fancy 911 shit…” Well I’m sorry but that’s not exactly how it works. When you call from a land line yes we can see the address that you’re calling from providing that the information is CORRECT with the phone company. There are times when it’s not agency policy is we always confirm address with even a land line where 99% of the time it’ll be correct. When I asked the caller if she had an apartment number or if it was a private house she said that it was apartment 3 and then asked if it said apartment 2 on my screen. The caller said she had contacted the phone company with ALI Discrepancies multiple times and that nothing had yet been done about it.
Cell phones… That’s a whole different matter all together. Cell phones can provide GPS location when you dial 911 but it isn’t all that accurate. Sometimes it can be spot on and sometimes it can be off by thousands of feet. In a crowded area like a city or even an apartment complex how can we figure out what building you’re in? Or what apartment in the 10 story building you’re in? What if your cell phone is still using Phase 1 and it only shows the cell phone tower that your cell phone hit off and actually doesn’t give a location of where you are.
Pre-paid cell phone and old cell phones can always be used to call 911 whether you have minutes left or no service to the phone at all. When you call from one of these phones it will have an area code of 911 it doesn’t have an actual phone number. Make sure that if it’s a prepaid cell phone that you confirm the phone number with the dispatcher, preferably without the unnecessary attitude. If you don’t give us a number to call back on we can’t do it because any phone number starting with 911 will come straight back to 911. Also… if you give your child an old cell phone to play with TAKE OUT THE BATTERY. Again any phone regardless of contract, no minutes, or no service WILL CALL 911. Phones aren’t toys don’t give them to the kids and if you have little ones keep them out of reach.
Remember 911 is for emergencies… If you have a headache for 8 days or can’t find the TV grow up and be an adult and deal with it the right way. If you have a medical issue for 8 days you can probably wait to go see your primary doctor or even urgent care (better than wasting the ER’s time).
So there you have it… a rant and some good information.