15 emergency call tips from an operator could save your life

Have you ever found yourself in an emergency situation and somehow floated through the motions? Sometimes, it’s like we’re not even there at all. Instinct can be a wonderful thing, and the fight to survive can have us doing some pretty wild things, such as lifting cars off of children or catching someone jumping from a building.

When instincts take over, there’s really no telling what might happen and that’s one of the things that makes humans so wonderful. However, it’s not always someone else that needs rescuing. Sometimes, it’s us that needs the help.

So what happens if you find yourself needing the emergency services? Well, you can join the other 240 million people that call them a year in America. Whether it’s for the police, fire brigade, or an ambulance – there is no end to the help the emergency services can offer someone in need. However, sometimes they need our help in return. The nation is a big place, and we could be just about anywhere. Plus, there is no telling what these people in uniform could be arriving to.

Thankfully, these emergency call tips from an operator could save your life if you ever find yourself dialing 911. It might be tough to remain calm, but keeping a level head could be the difference between you making it home and saying “goodbye” to your family…

**Disclaimer, these are only recommendations from various experts, but you should always use your best judgement in every situation and do what you think is best.**

Know where you are

Of course, one of the first things you will be asked when you phone the emergency services is where you are – they need to know where to send help! This can be hard if you are away from home as it could be unlikely that you’ll remember the address of everywhere you go. However, it’s important to know an area just in case you need to get hold of help in an emergency. If you are in public, looking out for visible land markers, such as parks or statues, looking for the names of stores, or describing your location in detail can all help the operators work out your position.

Try to use a landline

We know, landlines are so last week. However, this could be the difference between getting found in time and going missing if you have the choice. Cell phones are great, and actually make up for 70% of all calls to the emergency services, but they only give an area for the operators to search. On the other hand, landlines will give the operator your exact location and make sending help a lot more straightforward. So if you are faced with the option, it’s best to pick up that landline after all. Especially in a situation where every minute counts. Who knows what difference those few seconds could make in the long run?

Become visible

This could be done in a whole host of ways depending on where you are when you call the emergency services. Being spotted is key to being safe in an emergency, so make sure, if you can, the services will be able to detect you. Turning on the hazard lights in your car is one way to attract people’s attention, another could be to turn on all the lights in your phone, or even get somewhere you will be spotted quicker.

Don’t hang up

Once you have placed the call, you might think help is on the way, so you’re off the hook; you’d be mistaken. In fact, it’s vital to stay on the line with the operator until the emergency services rescue you. This is to ensure the operator can give a clear description of what’s happening to the services on their way, as well as making sure you are kept safe while help is coming. If you can’t be seen on the phone, it’s important to lay it out of sight so the operator can still hear.

Mistakes can be made

Sometimes we can dial 911 by mistake. It could be a child playing with your phone, a pocket dial, or hitting the “emergency call” button without realizing. Although it can be embarrassing, it’s vital you don’t hang up the phone. Operators might think you are in trouble and try to call back if they see your call flash up and disappear. If they can’t get through, operators will send help to your location instead. All you need to do is explain your situation to the operator instead.

Know your initial information

There are four main questions you will be asked when calling the emergency services: where, who, what, and when. The “where” will give the operator an idea of your location and where they need to send the services; the “who” lets them know how many people have been involved and how old they are; the “what” tells the emergency services what has happened and what they should expect; and the “when” helps them understand how long the event has been unfolding.

Hand over your number

We’re told not to hand out our number to strangers, but we’re pretty sure you can make an exception here. No, you won’t now receive a ton of marketing calls or questionnaires. Instead, this could mean you’re rescued in time in case the phone line cuts out. If you are disconnected, the operator will ring you back on your number and continue talking you through all the events until someone arrives on the scene to take over helping.

Don’t panic if they disconnect

Sometimes, especially when there is a major event happening, it’s common for the emergency services to get multiple calls with the same information. Emergency operators can never ignore a call as the caller might be in danger or have new information. However, they might quickly disconnect after hearing there is nothing new to report. This is likely to happen if there is a sudden influx of calls from the same location and shouldn’t be taken personally. They’re just doing their job.

Never prank call

Emergency operators will never assume that a 911 call is a prank. They are trained to deal with every situation as if it were an emergency, and won’t take kindly to someone wasting their time. In fact, operators will treat all calls the same, and stay on the phone with the caller until help arrives on the scene. If they turn up and find out the call was a hoax, you could find yourself with a hefty fine or prison sentence as prank calling 911 is illegal.

Provide all your medical history

You might think that answering all those questions can seem a little personal, but this really could be the difference between making it to safety. Telling the operator all your information before help arrives on the scene could save a huge chunk of time by the time the emergency services get there. Don’t worry about wasting time either; emergency operators are skilled at multitasking that can be sending out the right help while still talking down the phone.

Know pre-existing conditions

Of course, chances are you will know if you have any pre-existing medical conditions. If you do, then talking to the emergency operator is the perfect time to list them all so the services know you might need extra assistance. If you are calling on behalf of someone else, then be sure to check for any medical alert jewelry, such as bracelets or necklaces, that will tell you if they have a condition that will need to be noted before help arrives.

Think mental health

Disclosing any mental health issues or disabilities are just as important as any physical conditions you or someone else might have. This is because certain police officers have been trained in how to deal with people that have mental disabilities and will be the best officers to have on the scene in an emergency. Plus, these officers will only be dispatched if they are requested and won’t be sent out otherwise. Making the emergency operator aware they are needed as soon as possible is key.

Always call if you need to

It can be tough to know whether to call 911 or not, especially when you’re on your own. A lot of people think they can handle the situation themselves and often try and protect themselves or bandage themselves up over calling the emergency services. However, many operators admit that if you ever feel as though you should call 911, then it’s best to pick up the phone. They even add that no call is ever bothering them.

Know you’re helping your community

Calling about anything suspicious could make the difference when it comes to preventing a crime or someone getting hurt. Something small such as someone going through your belongings even though they haven’t taken anything, or a strange noise in the night that left you feeling uncomfortable could be the answer the emergency services need when cracking a case. Reporting anything out of the usual is one step to helping protect your community from any further crime.

Be patient

This can be for more than one reason. It’s vital to remain calm and patient when on the phone to the emergency operator as they have no way to speed up the help coming to you. They are just there to make sure you get the help you need. However, it’s also important to make sure you’re patient with the help once it arrives at the scene. Sometimes, services aren’t allowed to progress until other help arrives on the scene. This could be the ambulance waiting for the police, or the police waiting for the fire brigade.

There’s no choice

Before even making the call to the emergency services, it’s important to know there won’t be a choice of treatment if you’re in need of the hospital. Sure, you might have your favorite local emergency department, but you could be on the other side of town to a much closer hospital instead. The emergency operator’s job is to make sure you are sent to the nearest hospital for treatment, not to get to one that’s your top choice.

Understand the billing

Unfortunately, all that medical care could come with quite the price tag if you’re not careful. In fact, a ride in an ambulance could cost anywhere from $200 to more than $2,000 depending on the care you need and the distance you have to travel. It’s essential to know these costs before you call the emergency services as once they have been dispatched, there is no going back. You can say “no” to an ambulance, but sometimes the operators will have no choice but to send help.

Be aware of your surroundings

As soon as you head somewhere new, it’s vital to be aware of your surroundings. Are there any suspicious packages? Is there anyone behaving strangely? Is there someone that looks as though they need help? These are all questions and more that should be running through your mind as you prepare to keep yourself as safe as possible. Being aware of your surroundings could be the prevention you need to keep yourself away from danger in the first place.

Have a plan ready

It’s important to have a plan in place just in case you find yourself in an emergency situation. This could be discussing with your group who everyone has as their emergency contacts, knowing where to meet if someone gets separated from the group, or telling people of any conditions they should be aware of if you find yourself in an emergency. Another plan could also be showing any children how to call the emergency services in case of an emergency.

Make use of your smartphone

Smartphones are wonderful things, and they could be another answer when it comes to keeping yourself safe from danger. Sometimes we might not be able to get to the phone, or someone might have to call the emergency services on our behalf so what are we to do? There are many apps that can all come into play in these situations. For example, some will text all emergency contacts if you have to call 911 while others will display medical information on your phone’s screen even when it’s locked.