Sentinel Handbook

Tips for security, safety, and crime prevention volunteers

Patrol Tip: Calling In to 9-1-1

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9-1-1 is the number most people think of when it comes time to call in an emergency, but it also tends to be the only number that comes to mind when they think to call in a non-emergency as well. 9-1-1 dispatchers are often flooded with non-emergency calls that tie up available lines, leaving real emergencies to go unanswered.

There are two types of calls you will make when making a report to the authorities, emergency 911, and non-emergency calls. Your place of employment, or organization, may already have policies in place about when to call, so be familiar with those policies.

You should only call 9-1-1 when:

  • When you have a Police, Fire or Medical emergency.
  • When there is danger to life, property, or both.
  • When you see suspicious activities that appear to involve criminal intent.
  • When you need an officer immediately dispatched to your location.

You should call the Non-Emergency number when:

  • When you are reporting a nuisance complaint – noise, parking, debris in roadway, illegal burning, non-working streetlights, etc.
  • When you are reporting a non-emergency crime – after the fact, no suspects in the area.
  • When you have questions about something suspicious occurring in your neighborhood, and you are not sure it is criminal activity.

Local Police, Fire, and EMS non-emergency numbers are located in the front of your local phone book or local government website.  Some locations have special Tip Lines for Underage Drinking, etc.

Tips when calling in a report:

  • Remain calm. If need be, run through your Tactical Breathing to reduce your anxiety before calling in.
  • Be patient while the Operator asks you questions. Operators are trained to ask specific questions that quickly determine what is wrong, and what type of assistance to send. Resist the urge to rush. Remember to breath.
  • Stay on the line until the Operator tells you to hang up.

The Operator will best determine how to handle your call. In some cases during a non-emergency situation, your information will be taken and you will get a call back.

Be Prepared To Answer:

  • Where – Give the exact physical address, street, number, etc. This is very important, especially when calling from a cell phone. If you are driving, be aware of the road or highway on which you are traveling. Look for landmarks or businesses that are very near to your location.
  • What – What happened, what are you reporting – Give a short description at first (I need to report a fire.. I need to report a break-in), the Operator will ask for more details as needed.
  • When – When did this happen? Is it still happening?

Stay On The Line If You Can

  • Stay on the line until the 9-1-1 Operator tells you they have all the information they need. In some instances, they will ask if you can stay on the phone with them until officers arrive. This is to gather additional information if the situation changes before officers arrive.
  • If it is not safe for you to stay on the phone, let the Operator know this immediately.

Written by Silver Sentinel

May 14, 2013 at 9:05 am

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