Best Practices for Calling 911 and Why This Impacts the Opioid Crisis
While investigating Alabama’s opioid dependence crisis, The Council on Substance Abuse-NCADD (COSA-NCADD) learned there is a need for more public education on the best practices for calling 9-1-1. Because 9-1-1 calls are handled in the order they are received, emergency responders might be diverted from true, life and death emergencies like an opioid overdose while responding to non-emergency calls.
When placing a call to 9-1-1, please follow the tips below. In addition, one option is to call your police department’s non-emergency number if you know your situation is not a true emergency, but you would still like some guidance. It is a good idea to have that non-emergency number on hand. Take a couple of minutes to look that number up now. Save it in your phone and write it somewhere visible in your home and place of work.
Also, please spread the word to family, friends, and neighbors about the responsible use of 9-1-1 and why it is important to only call 9-1-1 in an emergency. Taking this simple step can make a huge impact on how 9-1-1 services are monitored and delivered to those who are in an emergency situation.
Top Tips for Calling 9-1-1
DEVELOPED FOR INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY.COM
Created by a special 911 Lifeline, APCO, NENA team
The full list, along with other helpful 9-1-1 information, can be found here.
Is a person hurt or in danger? – Do you need the police, fire or ambulance?
Have you ever wondered whether to call 9-1-1? Since 9-1-1 is for emergencies only, it helps to understand when to call and when not to call. An emergency is any serious situation where a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical help is needed right away. If you are unsure of whether your situation is an emergency, go ahead and call 9-1-1. The 9-1-1 operator can determine if you need emergency assistance and can route you to the correct location.
If you do call 9-1-1, even by mistake, do not hang up the phone.
9-1-1 operators are trained to get the most important information as quickly as possible to get help on the way to an emergency situation. In an emergency situation, allow the operator to ask you all the questions they need in order to get help there in the timeliest manner before you hang up or leave the phone. If you happen to call by accident, stay on the line until you can tell the operator that you called by accident and there is no emergency. This saves the operator from having to call you back and confirm there is no emergency or possibly sending police with lights and sirens to check your address for an emergency.
When calling 9-1-1, do your best to stay calm and answer all questions.
Staying calm can be one of the most difficult, yet most important, things you do when calling 9-1-1. It is very important that you stay as calm as possible and answer all the questions the 9-1-1 operator asks. No matter how relevant they seem, these questions are important in helping get the first responders to you as fast as possible.
Help the 9-1-1 operator help you.
Listen and answer the questions you are asked. By doing this, it helps the operator understand your situation and assist with your emergency until the appropriate police, fire or medical units arrive.
Prank calls to 9-1-1 waste time and is illegal in most states.
Be sure all members of your household are aware that prank or harassing calls to 9-1-1will be dealt with by local law enforcement agencies.
Know the phones you own.
Educate everyone about the phone system in your home as well as your cell phone. Children may need to use the devices in an emergency and will need to know how to operate them.
Remember, 9-1-1 calls are handled in the order they are received, and emergency responders might be diverted from true, life and death emergencies like an opioid overdose while responding to non-emergency calls. Taking the time to educate yourself, as well as your family and friends on the proper use of 9-1-1 can save a life!