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Tips for providing information in emergencies

Posted: Thursday, Feb 27th, 2014

HURON — With a growing number of households dropping traditional landline phone service in favor of wireless devices, Huron police dispatchers are offering tips for providing information to allow for the quickest response to an emergency.

• Where is your emergency?

The first question 911 dispatchers often ask is the most crucial piece of information responders need to find you quickly in an emergency. Landline phones provide dispatchers with accurate mapping in most cases, but cell phones often bounce between towers and may only provide a general location of the caller within a few blocks.

Residents are encouraged to provide accurate addresses, pay attention to landmarks, cross streets and colors of houses to aid responders.

Huron police dispatchers answer 911 calls for five counties in eastern South Dakota, covering 5,070 square miles. Incidents often occur in different counties simultaneously, making obtaining accurate location information essential when making a wireless call.

• Help the dispatcher and responders find you.

Remain calm. It can be one of the most difficult, yet important things you can do in an emergency.

Listen to questions carefully and answer them to the best of your ability. The questions, no matter how irrelevant they may seem, are important in helping dispatchers determine what type of situation may be occurring and aid in helping responders find you quickly.

Huron city ordinance requires houses to be marked with house numbers clearly in a visible location from the street.

• If 911 is called, even by mistake, do not hang up.

Dispatchers are trained to obtain the most critical information as quickly as possible to get help on the way to an emergency. Callers should allow the dispatcher time to ask all the questions he or she needs before you leave the phone.

Often, they will remain on the phone, providing helpful instructions until responders arrive. If 911 is called by accident, stay on the line until you can tell the dispatcher that you called by accident and there is no emergency.

This saves the call taker from having to call you back to confirm help is not needed. Huron police follow up on 911 hang up calls to ensure there is no emergency.

• Teach your children when and how to use 911.

Kids should know how to call 911 and to trust the call taker. Be sure they know how to use home and cell phones. They will need to be able to provide their names, parent’s names, telephone number and, most importantly, address information. Let them know they should remain on the phone until help arrives.

For the complete article see the 02-26-2014 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 02-26-2014 paper.

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