911 Basics

How Your 911 Calls Progress

Dialing 911 is a serious situation where the caller is declaring an emergency of some type. Whether it is involving a crime, a fire, a traffic accident, a medical emergency, 911 is there to connect our citizens to the emergency response system in the shortest amount of time. Remember: in an emergency situation involving life or property or any emergency situation requiring the immediate response from a fire truck, police car or ambulance, dial 911.

When You Dial 911

Imagine there is an emergency and you dial 911. The Emergency Dispatcher/911Call Taker will answer the line with 911, Where is the emergency? We answer the telephones in this manner so that you provide us with the most important piece of information, the location of the emergency, where emergency services are needed.

Obtaining Your Location

Traditional wired telephones provide our personnel with Automatic Location Information (ALI) on a computer screen but our Dispatchers will still always verbally verify the location. Many times the calling party is calling from another location and not the location of the emergency. Thus, it is important to ask 911, Where is the emergency? at the beginning of the call to make sure emergency services are directed to the correct location without delay. Cell phone technology also provides us data that plots on a computer map very close, but not exact, to the location of the person calling from the cell phone. Again, the Dispatcher will verbally verify to rule out any technological errors that might occur.

Additional May Be Asked Questions to Verify Location in Relation to:

  • A commonly known location (Store, Church, Facility, School, etc.)
  • A major highway and intersection
  • A residential or business address

These questions will be followed by verbally verifying which borough or township, in the county, the call is coming from. This is important due to the presence of many duplicate or similar sounding street and location names throughout Bucks County. We take extra steps to ensure that the correct emergency service agency or agencies are dispatched to the scene. This is where we need your help in verifying the location. Your assistance saves time.

Questions Asked by Our Emergency Dispatchers

Once we have verified your address or location, and depending on the type of call (emergency medical, fire or police) the types of additional questions will vary but at a minimum, the dispatcher will ask for additional information.

  • Additional questions to aid emergency responders to best handle your situation or emergency911 Dispatcher
  • Any other hazards (fire, health, safety)
  • Description of the injuries
  • Fire exposures to other buildings
  • For fleeing persons or vehicles, which direction they went
  • For traffic accidents: extent and damage to vehicles to help determine medical level of care needed (starred windshield, air bags deployed, passenger compartment intrusion, etc.)
  • Physical Descriptions
  • Type of emergency (medical, fire, police)
  • Vehicle Descriptions and license numbers
  • Weapons (hazards to responders)
  • Your name
  • Your telephone number (verifying our ALI screen)
  • Any additional questions to help us paint the picture for responding units

It is important that you remain on the line and answer these questions. Your assistance will help the emergency dispatchers to obtain vital information for responders. You may feel we are taking a long time on the phone with you. In reality it is only seconds or possibly minutes. At the same time Dispatchers are entering call information and calls are being dispatched over the radio to emergency responders.

If you are in any immediate danger to your life, you need to let the emergency dispatcher know this. The dispatcher will then instruct you to get off the line and you will then need to get to a place of safety.

If you are not in immediate danger and you are still on the telephone with the emergency dispatcher you may be given pre-arrival instruction to assist you, the victim or the emergency responders in preparation prior to their arrival.

Pre-Arrival Instructions

Our Dispatchers are trained and certified Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMDs) who provide emergency medical telephone instructions called Pre-Arrival Instructions (PAIs) for situations such as CPR chest compressions for cardiac arrest, Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) instructions for those having access to an AED during a cardiac arrest situation, assisting a diabetic person, bleeding control, to name a few examples. As the 911 caller you are in the right position for receiving life-saving instructions to help a victim before emergency responders arrive. Working together as a team we can maintain or improve the victim's medical status or even save a life.

Help Is on the Way

Help is being dispatched at the same time Dispatchers are on the phone with you!

The emergency dispatcher will guide the process of questions and while this is happening the appropriate units will be dispatched at the same time, to minimize the time getting the information to the emergency responders. Outside of any imminent threat of injury or harm where the caller needs to hang up, the dispatcher will be the one who will guide the call to a close.

You, the caller, are an important part of the team. You become our eyes and ears so we are able to paint the picture for those responding to the scene. These updates ensure that your emergency responders are best prepared before they arrive on scene, providing an additional measure of safety.

Once the call information is placed into our Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system the Emergency Dispatcher responsible for your area will radio dispatch the appropriate units to the scene, again, many times while you are still on the phone with another dispatcher, which saves time. From there Emergency Dispatchers will guide units to the scene and update them with additional information when necessary.