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All about 911: How to handle a 911 call

Keep Calm and Call 911
Keep Calm and Call 911
Jake Schulke

Needing to call 911 can be a frightening experience. It’s pretty normal to get overwhelmed, frantic, frustrated and even angry. Knowing what to do while on the phone can help streamline the call to get you help faster. The call-takers who answer the line are trained to handle frantic callers and guide you through the emergency, but you can help yourself by helping them in the following ways:

Know where you are. The call-taker will ask you the location of the emergency and the phone number you are calling from. Even though they can probably figure this out if you don’t know, it speeds things up if you quickly confirm the address for them.

Wait to speak to someone. If you encounter an error message or busy signal, try your 911 call again. If you encounter a recording listen to what it says, and stay on the line to speak with a person.

Listen carefully. The call-taker will ask you many questions. Your answers to these questions guide what types of help will be sent to you and can even influence how fast they might arrive. Yelling at the call-taker and refusing to answer questions can actually delay help. Let the call-taker take control of the conversation and the results will be better.

Remain quiet and calm. It is natural to feel panicked in an emergency, but every effort you can make to stay calm will improve the situation. Try not to yell. Speak calmly and clearly and keep others at the scene as calm as you can.

Follow instructions. The call-taker will give you instructions and in many situations these instructions can make the difference between life and death, so listen up and do what the call-taker asks.

Be patient. You may hear long pauses, and it may feel like a long time has gone by. While on the line the call-taker may mute their voice so you don’t hear while they speak on the radio or call other agencies for more help. Even if it seems like you are on hold they can probably still hear you. Just wait and stay on the line until told to hang up.

The fast-and-simple rule is to let the call-taker help you. Try not to yell at them or tell them what to do. They are trained to get the right information from you very quickly. I have dealt with many uncooperative callers as a 911 call-taker, and believe me when I tell you that cooperation is the best thing you can do expedite the help you need.

Have you ever had an experience calling 911? Share your experience in the comments below, and ask any questions you may have. Thanks for reading. You can subscribe above to get new article alerts, and you can follow me on Twitter @Examiner1stAid. Stay safe and be well.

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