Are you prepared to call 911 if you ever need to? Are your children going to know the information we need to send help? This section is about what to expect when you call 911 and has some fun activities for children.
If you live in the Fairbanks area and have ever called 911 you might be surprised to hear us ask “What city please?” FECC dispatches from Ester all the way to Delta and the 911 calls we receive can span even farther distances. Sometimes addresses can duplicate from city to city, so in addition to having the correct address we do need to know what city you’re in. We always get a callback number from people who call in to report any type of situation that police, fire or EMS would potentially need to respond to. Sometimes phones are not reliable and we need to know how to contact you back if we get disconnected. The personal information we get from you is not public information and is only available to emergency personnel.
After we acquire the basic information we get into the details of what you are calling for by asking you to tell us exactly what happened. We depend on you, the caller, for accurate information so we know how best to help and what services you need. We want to provide you with the best level of service we can so each dispatcher is required to obtain certification through the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch. Certification allows the dispatcher to use police, fire and medical dispatch protocols. These protocols create a standardized method of processing incoming calls for service so you can expect to get the same level of service from each dispatcher you speak with, at anytime of the day or night. These protocols assist us in gathering important information for the responders that ensure we have the ability and knowledge of the situation to get the job done. These protocols also suggest instructions to convey to our callers in certain situations. No matter what service you are calling for we will have important instructions to relay that could help you deliver a baby, tell you what to do in case of a structure fire, or even help you escape a sinking vehicle.
Our protocols are easy to understand and ask basic question that anyone, any age should be able to answer. Sometimes children need to call in an emergency situation, they can be some of the most collected callers provided that they have been taught the basics of 911.
Children need to know from an early age what 911 is, give examples of situations when you should call and ones that you shouldn’t call 911 in. It is also important that they know if something happens and they are not sure whether there’s a real emergency and no adults around, it’s a good idea to make the call. Explain to children that it is never okay to call 911 as a joke or just to see what might happen. When the dispatcher takes a call that is not an emergency, other people who call and do need help right away might have to wait. Often the dispatcher can find out where the call is coming from and contact the home or the homeowners and alert them we are receiving calls.
Make sure children know or have access to your home address, home and cell phone numbers, and their parents names. This information can tell us where they need help or who we can try to call to find out where to send help. It might be a good idea to put all this information down on a card that you put by each phone in the house, make sure that information and the phone itself is able to be reached by the child. It’s also very important to make sure you are safe before you call 911. For instance if your home is on fire, leave the house and call from another location. It would be a good idea to set up an alternate location, such as a neighbors house that a child would feel safe going to, to ask for help.
Last of all reassure the children that it is okay to feel scared or nervous if they have to call 911. The dispatchers who answer 911 talk to a lot of people, even adults who are nervous or worried when they call. Remind them that they can trust the dispatchers and to listen carefully to the instructions we give.
Here are some printable activities or websites you can visit: