The popularity of cell phones makes knowing where you are when you call for help even more important.
Emergency responders need to know where to go.
And it starts with the first phone call for help. The information provided then makes a huge difference in the time it takes emergency responders to render aid, El Campo Fire Chief Jimmy George Jr. said.
When a citizen picks up the phone and dials 9-1-1 they are connected to a dispatcher who coordinates everything from ambulances and fire trucks to police vehicles.
Callers will be asked for the correct address, cross streets, landmarks, what telephone number they’re calling from, what happened, how many people are involved and the condition of the people facing the emergency, whether it is a medical issue or trauma situation.
When a cell phone is used, there’s no guarantee what tower will pick up the call, George said, adding that means it’s hard to determine where it will be routed. Calls to 9-1-1 are automatically routed to an emergency dispatch center.
Callers are urged to remain patient as dispatchers ask questions.
All the information they are requesting is vital in the process of determining what sort of emergency exists and what type of unit – police, fire, EMS or all of the above – is needed on the location.
“The information that’s most important is the name, the exact location, directions and describing the residence if it is in the county,” George said. “And we need to know what’s going on – if it is a vehicle crash and if they (the patient or patients) are injured or not.”
Residents are urged to know and post their 9-1-1 address on both sides of their mailbox rather than just one.
They should be aware of the nearest cross street and how far off a main road the site is located as well as any landmarks.
If a person is available to flag down ambulance crews, he added, that also helps emergency personnel get to the scene quicker.
If motorists witness or come across a vehicle crash, they are urged to not only call 9-1-1, but stay at the location.
“Please don’t leave the scene,” the fire chief said.
Staying on the location helps rescuers determine the exact location and helps eliminate the “I saw it a few miles back” call.
“Think about what you are saying, about the nearest town you are calling from,” George said.