Dial 911 Terra Culley

School is out and many kids are staying with grandparents during the summer hours. This leads to a new set of great adventures, and sometimes worries.

School vacation always brings a rise in the volume of child calls. These calls are in part misdials, child playing with old phones or emergencies. Emergencies may happen at any time, being prepared is the only thing that will help them go a little smoother.

With technology as it is today, everyone assumes that 911 knows exactly where the caller is as soon as the call is placed. That is not the case. If a landline is used, then most of the time an address will show with the phone number and will map correctly. When a cell phone is used, the address may not be exact or show at all. It is important for everyone – including your younger ones – to know the address of where they are staying. Here is a small excerpt of a call similar to one that has come into dispatch.

Dispatcher: “911, where is your emergency?”

Caller: “My grandma won’t wake up.”

Dispatcher: “Where are you?”

Caller: “At my grandma’s house.”

Dispatcher: “Do you know grandma’s address?”

Caller: “No, she lives by us.”

Dispatcher: “Do you know your address?”

Caller: “No.”

Dispatcher: “What is your name? How old are you?”

Caller: “Jordan, 4 years old.”

Dispatcher: “Is there anyone else there with you and grandma?”

Caller: “No”

Dispatcher: “What is grandma’s name?”

Caller: “Grandma.”

Dispatcher: “What do her friends call her?”

Caller: “Some call her Jane.”

Dispatcher: “Do you know her last name?”

Caller: “No.”

Dispatcher: “Jordan, what is your last name?”

Caller: “Smith.”

Dispatcher: “Jordan will you go and try to wake her up tell her I would like to talk to her on the phone.”

Caller: “Yes.” (Jordan can be heard talking to grandma telling her someone on the phone wants to talk to her. No sounds from grandma.)

Dispatcher: “Is grandma breathing, is her chest going up and down?”

Caller: “Yes.”

Dispatcher: “Do you know what street or road you are on?”

Caller: “It is one that has dirt on it, grandma don’t like it because she can’t hang out her sheets to dry or they will get dusty.”

Dispatcher: “Where is your mom?”

Caller: “At work.”

Dispatcher: “Where does she work?”

Caller: “Hospital.”

Dispatcher: “What is your mom’s name?”

Caller: “Joan.”

At this time the dispatcher’s partner would call the local hospital and try to track down Joan.

Dispatcher: “Does grandma have her address wrote down anywhere?”

Caller: “No.”

Dispatcher: “Is there any mail there that you can see?”

Caller: “No.”

Dispatcher: “Are there numbers outside on her house?”

Caller: “Yes, they are red and old, grandpa needs to paint them, but he keeps forgetting.”

Dispatcher: “Can you read the numbers to me?”

Caller: “Yes, they are 1234.”

Dispatcher: “That was great work, thank you. Now I want you to go back in where your grandma is and see if she will talk to you now.”

Caller: “Ok.”

Caller: “She is still sleeping.”

Dispatcher: “Is she still breathing like she was earlier?”

Caller: “Yes, and she don’t snore like my dad does.”

Dispatcher: “What is your dad’s name?”

Caller: “John.”

Dispatcher: “Is he at work also?”

Caller: “No, he is just out in the hay field cutting hay. He told mom last night that he has to get that field finished before the rain.”

Dispatcher: “Is dad close can you see him from the house?”

Caller: “No, he had to go down the road and around that other road.”

Dispatcher: “Has grandma ever done this before?”

Caller: “Yes, when she forgot her shot.”

Dispatcher: “Does she take a shot every day?”

Caller: “Sometimes.”

Dispatcher: “Do you know if she is a diabetic?”

Caller: “I don’t know, but she likes flowers.”

Dispatcher: “Can you tell me anything that is outside her house?”

Caller: “She just got a trampoline, and it is fun.”

At this point, thankfully, the local hospital knew Joan and the other dispatcher was able to get her on the phone. Dispatch found out that the grandma was a 62-year-old diabetic, the correct address and the numbers were 1234. Mom also was able to call another family member that was closer. Jane was treated in time and taken to the local hospital for evaluation.

As soon as the correct address was obtained an ambulance was dispatched. The dispatcher who took the call stayed on the phone with Jordan until the ambulance showed up, with her aunt pulling in right behind them. Jordan may not have known the whole address but with the help of the emergency mapping system and talking to her it is possible that her location would have been determined, without contacting mom. That would be another great scenario, however that is not always the case. There are times that the cell phones do not map correctly or at all.

Some helpful tips:

•Have the address written out somewhere where everyone knows where it is. Even if the younger one cannot read words, but can recognize letters and numbers, they can read them off to the 911 dispatchers. Post it on a wall or the refrigerator.

•Make sure that the grandkids know the names of the grandparents. Explain how they may call her grandma, but her name is Jane Smith. By knowing the names, dispatch may use this information to try and locate their address.

•Have the parent’s name, emergency cell, and work number written down. This will help when responders are on scene and need to contact someone for the child. Dispatch may also call them before responders get there.

•Have a list of grandma’s medical conditions and medications. Make sure all know where this is located to show responders.

•If the child has any health issues or medication have that for the grandparents also. They may know it but when an emergency occurs it is hard to remember all the important facts.

•If a child is playing with the older phones, to watch their videos or play games it is important to know that those phones will still dial 911. If that happens please educate them to stay on the phone and talk to the dispatcher. A dispatcher will ask to talk to an adult, once an adult gets online, they will confirm that all is ok. If dispatch does not get to talk to an adult, a call trace may be completed, then an officer dispatched to the location.

I have provided this with a grandparent example, but it also applies to all babysitting situations, including younger ones staying with older siblings.

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