911 / Central Communications

The 4-1-1 on 9-1-1

Almost everyone knows to call 911 when there is an emergency.  When you do call 911 who do you speak to? Why do they ask so many questions? Do they really need all this information? Let’s take a look at these questions individually and see if they can be answered satisfactorily.

When you call 911 here in Hall County the phone will be answered by a call taker whose first question is “Hall County 911, what is the address of your emergency?”  In this profession the location means everything. Responders can be sent to the location, find the problem, and handle the situation. However, if all you give is your address then disconnect, you may receive way more help than you would expect. Please stay on the phone and answer the call takers other questions as long as that does not put you in harm’s way. These call takers go through months of training to become P.O.S.T. (Peace Officer Standard Training) certified. They can handle any situation that comes to them through the phone.

The call takers will continue and follow up with: “What is the phone number you are calling from?” And “Ok, tell me exactly what happened.”  The first question is in case we get disconnected, we can call you back and continue to gather information. Next, “ok, tell me exactly what happened” is meant to gather the information of why you called 911. We need to know what has happened that caused you to decide to pick up the phone and call 911. What happened 3 months ago is not what we need. We need the here and now, right now, of why you are calling.

There is an actual script call takers use when they are taking information for a medical call. Some of the questions may seem like a waste of time to you, or just aggravating, when you are concerned for a sick or injured person. However; these questions have been compiled from years of research by emergency medical personnel and local doctors. These questions help your responders be as ready as they can be to deliver possibly lifesaving care to the patient as quickly as possible after arriving on scene. Please try to stay calm and answer all questions to the best of your ability.

When answering law enforcement type calls, the call taker will ask some of the same questions to gather the initial understanding of the problem. They will then start asking a lot of questions to get descriptive information from you. Where is this happening; What is happening: Who is involved? How many people are involved?  When did this happen? Where are the subjects?  Are weapons involved? For example, are they inside the home/building or outside? And does anyone have any weapons? The call takers will ask for names, birthdays, and clothing descriptions of persons involved, vehicle types and colors, type of weapons, including guns, machetes, baseball bats, etc.  The call takers gather this information because it is crucial to ensure the safety of the responders.

Hopefully this helps you understand how important the 911 call taker is and their role in emergency communications and response.  These people are mothers/fathers, husband/wives, daughters/sons who do all they can to assist the citizens of Hall County during times of emergencies. If you let them, they will help you find the calm in the chaos.