Using Emergency Services Effectively 

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Are you prepared for when an emergency happens?

Moreover, people are aware they should call 9-1-1 in an emergency situation, but are less aware of what to expect and what they can do to expedite response.   In some instances, seconds can make the difference between life and death.   Let's look at some things you and your family can to do assist responders in getting to you quickly:

  • Know your physical address 
    • If you are calling from a location other than your residence or business, look around for a landmark or cross streets.
    • Teach children the address as soon as possible.  The emergency may require them to call 9-1-1 for you.
  • Make sure your address is clearly displayed in front of your residence or business
    • Numbers should be at least 3" tall
    • Place the numbers under a lighting source with a contrasting background to be clearly visible at night
    • If the numbers are posted on a mailbox post or similar object, post them on both sides
    • Keep trees, shrubs and flowers trimmed so they do not block the numbers
    • Number should be visible from the street
      • If the house is not visible from the street, clearly post the numbers at the entrance of the driveway, on a mailbox post, etc.
      • If you live in an area where mailboxes are shared or clustered, also mark your address at your driveway
  • Ensure your address has been recorded with the local property appraiser/GIS department
  • Test it out
    • Pretend you have never been to your house, drive it from both directions during daylight and in the dark to see how visible your address is from the road
  • For additional addressing information visit: 10 Steps to properly display your 9-1-1 Address

Calling for assistance

The firs step in determining whether to call 9-1-1 or to call a non-emergency lines is whether the situation is an emergency.  Emergencies are generally going to be situations that threaten safety, life or property and require immediate response.  Non-emergency calls are generally going to be situations that are delayed or do not involve imminent injury, loss of life or loss of property.

If you are not sure whether your call is an emergency or not, call 9-1-1!

Some examples of non-emergency calls would be (but are not limited to):

  • Control burns - requests for authorization to burn
  • Cattle out - if the cattle are not currently in the roadway causing a traffic hazard
  • Phone scams
  • Events that are delayed by several hours or even days (burglaries, thefts, etc., that did not just occur or currently in progress)
  • Requests to speak to an officer/deputy about a situation previously reported or general questions
  • Utility outage reporting - unless you have medical equipment that is dependent on electricity to operate

Some examples of emergency calls would be (but are not limited to):

  • Any medical calls
  • Any fire calls
  • Crimes in progress or just occurred
  • Motor vehicle accidents - involving injury or road blockage

When you call or text  9-1-1 or the non-emergency number, have the following information ready (for all call types):

  • Your address
  • Your phone number
  • Your name
  • Nature of the call

Trained Emergency Tele-communicators will have a series of questions for you to answer.  These questions do not delay response, they assist responders in being prepared when they get on scene.  If there is a moment of silence, the tele-communicator may be dispatching responders to your residence/business and then will come back on the line with you to obtain additional information. 

Specific information asked for medical emergencies, in addition to the all call type questions, can include (but are not limited to):

  • Age of the patient
  • Gender of the patient
  • Level of consciousness
    • Fully alert 
    • Altered 
    • Unconscious
  • Breathing status
    • Breathing normally
    • Labored breathing
    • Not breathing
  • Chief Complaint - what type of medical emergency (examples below are not all inclusive) 
    • Cardiac issues
    • Diabetic issues
    • Lacerations
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Abdominal  or back pain

Specific information asked for fire emergencies, in addition to the all call type questions, can include (but are not limited to):

  • What is on fire
    • Grass/pasture land/CRP/haybales, etc.
    • Vehicle(s)
    • Structures (residences, businesses, barns, etc.)
  • Is it occupied (for structures and vehicles)
  • Are there any injuries
  • Are flames visible or smoke only (for structures and vehicles)
  • What area are the flames coming from (for structures and vehicles)
  • Approximately how many acres are burning (grass fires)
  • Are there any other structures or vehicles threatened with the fire
  • What utility service provider(s) do you have (for structures) - utility companies are called by the tele-communicator while fire services are en route

Due to the extensive number of law enforcement call types, questions will be dependent on the type of situation being reported and  could not be listed here.

Specific information asked for law enforcement emergencies, in addition to the all call type questions, can include (but are not limited to):

  • Is the situation being reported currently occurring or is it delayed
    • If delayed, how long
  • Are weapons involved
    • If so, what type of weapon(s)
    • Description of the person(s) with the weapon(s)
  • If the situation being reported is an altercation:
    • Are all parties on scene
    • Is it physical or verbal
text to 911

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