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Emergency 9-1-1 & Dispatch

Responsibilities & Duties
Operating 24 hours per day, the Dispatch Center’s first and highest priority is to answer and dispatch 9-1-1 calls. We also answer non-emergency telephone calls that may lead to dispatching first responders, and general calls for the department when the automated telephone system does not fulfill a citizen’s needs. We provide reception and answer questions at the DPS front desk, administer court ordered breath tests, support the records department, and provide safe-harbor for citizens that walk in.

When to call 9-1-1

9-1-1 should be used whenever there is an emergency, people are hurt or in danger, or you need police, fire or EMS help. If you are unsure if you have an emergency, call 9-1-1 anyway, our dispatchers answer both types of calls. The difference between 9-1-1 and other calls is the priority in which calls are answered when there are multiple, simultaneous calls.

What to expect when you dial 9-1-1
In normal 9-1-1 calls, you may hear ringing 5-7 seconds before the first ring in the dispatch center. Do not hang up and redial if your call is not immediately answered, that will only put you at the bottom of the queue. Other 9-1-1 calls may be coming in at the same time.

Be prepared to describe your location. The first question asked will be, “What is the location of your emergency?”, in case the call is disconnected or the location is unknown. The dispatch center may already have your location, but not always. Most landline and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls provide a location. Cellular calls depend on the equipment used by your cellular carrier.

In excited situations, try to stay calm, focus on the details you are reporting to avoid mix- ups, listen to questions asked, and provide accurate, succinct answers. Calling 9-1-1 can be stressful; take deep breaths if you are anxious. Operators are trained to ask questions to determine the proper resources to send. Be patient if you do not understand the purpose of some questions you are asked. If you feel the operator does not understand the situation, be insistent about the facts. In many emergencies, one dispatcher will continue to talk to you while a second dispatcher is sending help.

If reporting a crime, be prepared to describe any suspect(s) and/or vehicle(s) you have seen.  You may be asked about people, vehicles and even property. Police dispatched to a crime that has just occurred try to look for the suspect while en route. Any information that the dispatcher can provide responding officers will be helpful.

If reporting a medical emergency, your call will be transferred to a licensed medical professional who will ask questions about the patient’s condition and offer pre-arrival instructions, if needed.

Do not hang up until the call taker ends the call. If you are disconnected or the situation changes, call 9-1-1 again.

Accidental 9-1-1 Calls
Do not hang up if you call 9-1-1 by mistake. Simply state that the call was placed in error when the operator answers. This saves from having to determine if the call is an interrupted, true emergency or a simple error. If we get no response when 9-1-1 is answered, we will try to make contact you to determine if there is an emergency. If you don’t answer our call back, a police unit will be sent.

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