When you first call for emergency help, take a deep breath, listen, and wait until you hear “Riley County 911” before you start speaking.
There are several important details you should try to relay to dispatch if at all possible:
- The address of the incident
- Your phone number in case of disconnect
- What is happening
- Information about those involved
The dispatcher you are speaking to will begin to ask you a specific set of questions. In the heat of the moment, it may seem like the questions are not important, or irrelevant to the situation, but the questions are critical. Dispatchers will work as a team to pass the information you provide along to other first responders and get help to you as quickly as possible. Training and experience help dispatchers know the important information to gather to ensure the appropriate first responders show up on scene.
Your responses to the questions help police, firefighters, and EMTs have a plan of action as they are en route to your location so they can better respond when they arrive with the correct equipment available.
If law enforcement is needed dispatchers may ask:
- What happened
- When it happened
- Descriptors on people involved
- Weapons or current threat levels
- The direction of travel if people left the scene
- Vehicle descriptors (color, make, model, tag, or any unique identifiers)
- What other influences — drugs, alcohol, etc. may be involved
If firefighters or medical help is needed:
Dispatchers will gather information to provide EMTs and Firefighters to appropriately determine what equipment is necessary and a potential treatment plan for time-sensitive situations. In medical situations, dispatchers will ask for the gender and age of the person involved and some medical history if available. At this point, it’s not necessary to tell dispatchers how you know the person needing assistance, how you’re related, etc.
By answering dispatchers' strategic questions instead of just relaying vague information it will prevent the need to repeat, and aid in getting help to you as quickly as possible. This also helps to decrease the likelihood that important details will be missed.
Remember — when you’re involved in an emergency it can feel like time stops. Please be patient as the dispatchers are working quickly behind the scenes to coordinate with potentially life-saving services.
While you’re on the phone, other dispatch team members are doing background work of notifying the appropriate agencies to respond, relaying critical information, and gathering additional information.
Extensive training helps dispatchers make split-second decisions. They will determine who to send while also taking into account the area, responders on call, standard operating procedures, and much more. They will determine if police, fire, or EMS need to respond emergent — using lights and sirens. Dispatchers will decide which agencies need to be notified beyond first responders to include basic utility companies, local government crews, state agencies, animal control, the coroner, and many others.
If there are safety concerns, dispatchers will coordinate with law enforcement to provide a secure environment for whatever emergency aid needs to be performed.
Dispatchers are the first contact you have with first responders. Our highly trained team of professionals are here to serve you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.