In­side your county gov­ern­ment Know what to do be­fore di­al­ing 911

Maryland Independent - - Com­mu­nity Fo­rum -

Emer­gen­cies can oc­cur dur­ing any sea­son. Be­fore trav­el­ing, hav­ing fun, and ex­er­cis­ing this sum­mer, teach your fam­ily the im­por­tance of 911 and what to do when you call.

911 com­mu­ni­ca­tions dis­patch­ers are trained, li­censed professionals who can help you dur­ing an emer­gency. To help the dis­patch­ers pro­vide the best qual­ity ser­vice to you, re­mem­ber to be pa­tient, stay calm, and speak clearly through the call.

When call­ing 911, keep in mind these three im­por­tant answers you will need to pro­vide: • Lo­ca­tion of the emer­gency • Phone number you’re call­ing from

• Brief de­scrip­tion of what hap­pened

Pay at­ten­tion to the dis­patcher’s questions and re­spond clearly, an­swer­ing all questions, no mat­ter how nec­es­sary they may or may not seem to you. Re­mem­ber, in most cases, help is al­ready on the way as the dis­patcher asks you questions and gather in­for­ma­tion. Dis­patch­ers are trained to ask the questions nec­es­sary to de­ter­mine the type of med­i­cal, po­lice, or fire re­sponse for your par­tic­u­lar emer­gency. Tips when call­ing 911: 1) Use a land­line, if pos­si­ble, be­cause cell phones do not al­ways pro­vide ad­dresses or phone numbers. Do not de­lay call­ing to find a land­line phone.

2) If call­ing from a cell phone, study your sur­round­ings so you can ex­plain your lo­ca­tion.

3) Call 911 right away if you or some­one else is fac­ing a sit­u­a­tion that can pose an im­me­di­ate risk to health, life, prop­erty, or the en­vi­ron­ment.

4) If you call 911 by ac­ci­dent, stay on the line. When the dis­patcher answers, tell them the call was ac­ci­den­tal. Oth­er­wise, un­nec­es­sary emer­gency help may be sent.

5) Post your phone number and address by the tele­phone or on the re­frig­er­a­tor. It is not un­com­mon to for­get this in­for­ma­tion in an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion. A child call­ing 911 may not re­mem­ber this in­for­ma­tion un­less it is writ­ten down. Emer­gency re­spon­ders can­not help you if they can­not find you.

6) Put your house/apart­ment/ condo number on your home’s front, out­side wall, or curb to aid re­spon­ders.

7) Pro­vide in­for­ma­tion in a con­trolled voice. The dis­patcher un­der­stands any fears you may be feel­ing, and will do their best to help you stay calm.

8) If you have trou­ble an­swer­ing the dis­patcher questions, hand the phone to some­one else at the scene, if pos­si­ble.

9) Re­main on the line un­til the dis­patcher says it’s okay to end the call.

Teach your chil­dren the im­por­tance of 911, and pro­vide ex­am­ples of when they should call, such as when they smell smoke. Make sure your chil­dren know their address and phone number. Teach through rep­e­ti­tion or use a cre­ative song or rhyme. In­struct your chil­dren to call only when there is an ac­tual emer­gency, and re­mind them that 911 is not a toy.

Pre­pare your fam­ily be­fore an emer­gency oc­curs. Our 911 dis­patch­ers are here to sup­port and help you and your fam­ily.

William Stephens is the Charles County di­rec­tor of the de­part­ment of emer­gency ser­vices.

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