June 2000 - Volume 3 - Issue 4
- Guidelines for Using 911
- By Captain Bud Gundersen
The 911 emergency telephone system is in
place in many US cities to assist citizens with police, medical or fire emergencies. Check
to see that your area has 911. If not, create a list of the appropriate numbers and place
lists near each phone. It should be realized that non-emergency calls to the 911 system or
any emergency phone number can create delays in handling other very serious emergencies
that require immediate attention. The following are guidelines for the proper use of the
911 system for fire and medical emergencies for most major cities. Learn the system in
your area. Learn about the emergency systems wherever you may travel.
Do not call 911 for
non-emergency transportation, use taxi cabs or call a private ambulance
listed under Ambulance in your local telephone directory.
Examples of non-emergency
- minor illness or injury not requiring
- Flu/common cold.
- Chronic (ongoing) aches and pain.
- Minor cuts.
- Broken fingers or toes.
- Emotional upsets.
- Routine transportation to medical offices,
clinics and hospitals.
Remember, these are general guidelines - if
there is any doubt, do not hesitate to call the paramedics.
Examples of life-threatening
- Breathing difficulty/shortness of breath or
breathing has stopped.
- Choking (can't talk or breathe).
- Constant chest pain. (In and adult, lasting
longer than two minutes).
- Uncontrollable bleeding or large blood loss.
- Drug overdose or poisoning.
- Gunshot wounds or stabbing.
- Vomiting blood.
- Fainting or unconsciousness.
- Convulsions or seizures.
- Severe allergic reaction (difficulty
- Major burns (white or charred skin; blisters
and redness over large area).
- Someone who will not wake up, even when you
- Severe injuries
- Traffic accidents
- Head injury
- Significant falls
- Physical entrapment
Critical Information the Dispatcher Needs to Know:
- Identify your call as a medical
or fire emergency.
- What is the emergency?
What is wrong?
- Where is the emergency? Give
the address, include the building number, apartment number, and nearest cross street. The
name of the building is also helpful. Although in many areas the dispatcher will
electronically receive the address and the address and telephone number of the caller,
however it is best to verify it again with the dispatcher.
- Who needs help? Age
and number of people.
- Are they conscious?
Yes or no.
- Are they breathing? Yes
Wait for the fire department to hang up
before you do. The dispatcher may also provide you with critical pre-arrival instructions,
such as CPR or the heimlich maneuver.
Remain calm and give direct answers to the
questions asked. Speak slowly and clearly. You will be asked additional questions so the
dispatcher can send the right type of help. All questions are important.
How You Can Help Before the Fire Department Arrives:
- Assure the patient that help is on the way.
- Keep the phone line clear after the 911 call
- Direct someone to wait out front to meet the
ambulance and lead the way.
- Wave a flashlight or turn on flashers of a
car or porch light if it's dark or visibility is poor.
- Secure pets, especially dogs, in a separate
- Have a visible address, easily readable from
- Gather or make a list of medication that the
patient is using and give to emergency personnel.
- Consider finding an interpreter if the
patient does not speak English.
- Start First Aid:
- Apply direct pressure to the wound if the
victim is bleeding.
- Perform the heimlich maneuver if a choking
victim can't breathe or talk
- Begin CPR if the victim has no pulse and has
Understanding what happens when a 911 call
is placed will help the system run more efficiently and will bring you the emergency
medical service you need in the shortest possible time.
Source: "Children's Safety Zone,
Using 911" - web address found at: http://www.sosnet.com/safety/firesafety/using911.html
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