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When To Dial 911 and When Not To

911 operator at work

911 is the emergency telephone number that you can call from any telephone, be that cordless or wired. This telephone line is manned by people across the country, but there is insufficient staff available to answer every call within just a few rings. This is made even worse by the fact that many people telephone the emergency helpline for no reason at all. Hence, it is very important that you know when you should dial 911, and when you shouldn’t.

What Is an Emergency?
As an emergency number, you should only telephone it if you have a real and immediate need for the fire department, an ambulance or the police. Some examples where this may be necessary include:
• If there is a fire
• If a crime has taken place, or, even more importantly, if it is in the process of taking place
• If there has been a car crash, particularly if someone is injured
• If there is a medical emergency

The medical emergency one is a bit tricky. It is important to not phone for every ache and pain, but only if there is a genuine problem. For instance, if someone is gasping for air, completely unconscious, has an allergic reaction, is experiencing chest pain, is bleeding profusely or has other needs that require a doctor straight away.

If, however, you aren’t sure whether your need 911, then it is best to call them and let their operator determine whether or not you should perhaps call someone else. However, you shouldn’t abuse this either.

Examples of When 911 Was Phoned in Vain
Around 20% of all 911 calls are unnecessary, which is a staggering number. Indeed, it is known that some people have died unnecessarily, simply because they couldn’t get through due to bogus calls. Some of these calls are accidental, where the wrong number is pressed. Other times, they are truly silly, such as people asking to be put through to a taxi. It is against the law to intentionally make unnecessary 911 calls, and all calls are traced to number and location, so this is not a joke.

Dialing 911 by Mistake
Mistakes happen. You could accidentally dial the wrong number, or perhaps a child has called it because they don’t understand. If this happens, you should not hang up the phone, as this will alert operators that a call took place from your location and they will send out someone to check out what is going on. Hence, stay on the line and explain the situation.

What Happens During a 911 Call?
When you telephone the emergency helpline, you will be asked a number of questions. These include:
• What the nature of the emergency is
• Where the emergency is taking place
• What your telephone number is

You will also have to explain what is happening, how a person is responding in case of a medical emergency and more. Remember to answer all questions to the best of your ability, even if you think they are unnecessary. If there is a true emergency, help will be sent out while you answer the questions.

The call-taker may also give a number of instructions, which you must follow to the best of your ability. You may be instructed on anything from how to stop traffic around an accident to how to deliver a baby in case a woman has gone into labor. The operators are trained in these types of procedures and have step by step guides that they are able to read out to you.

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