Emergency Communication: Tips to help first responders help you when calling 911

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The Amarillo Police Department is taking time this holiday season to stress the importance of communicating critical location information as soon as your can during an emergency phone call to 911.

APD Sergeant and former 911 dispatcher, Carla Burr, said a lot of people call in emergencies on cell phones. Those calls can be tracked to a location close to where you are, sometimes even the exact address, but they are not always accurate.

One issue is the information that comes to the 911 operator is the cell phone owner’s information.

“Some of that stuff is auto-populated, like name and phone number and address and stuff like that,” said Sgt. Burr. “So it’s very important that if you do only have a cell phone, that all of your information is up to date.”

The dispatcher also has to take time to confirm all that information and make sure that that’s true.”

“I’ve been frustrated when I’ve called in with information before. The first thing they do is want to confirm your address, your phone number and your name, and you might have some information in your head you’re trying to remember,” said Sgt. Burr. “So if you’ve got to get that out, get that out, so that it’s least on the recorded line, but then confirm those things with them as soon as you can.”

Sgt. Burr said another good practice is to know where you are when calling.

“Sometimes they don’t have any idea because they weren’t paying attention,” said Sgt. Burr.

She said dispatchers often get calls where the caller does not know the address or even a general location of where an emergency is happening.

“Just be better aware of your surroundings, pay attention to where you’re going, know where you’re at,” said Sgt. Burr.

Sgt. Burr said this is just the way we have shifted with reliance on technology.

“It’s just the society we’re in and it’s not a bad thing. It’s just something that we all maybe need to be more aware of, is remembering where you are, and being conscious of those locations. Because it could be a life or death circumstance, unfortunately,” said Sgt. Burr.

Following these tips help ensure first responders get to without any unnecessary delay.

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