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Inside 911: Dealing with calls


When 911 operators answer a call, they never know what they are going to hear on the other end of the line. Whether it’s a medical emergency, or a prank call, there are certain questions dispatchers have to ask.

“Who, what, when, where, why, and weapons. Generally, those are the questions that need to be asked the most,” said 911 operator Christopher Enyart.

The more information the caller can provide, the better the response. While you are answering more questions, help is already on the way.

When someone calls 911 they usually hear at least two or three rings before a call reaches the 911 center. In just those few seconds the phone relays your name, location, and phone number. But in an emergency, a few rings can seem like an eternity.

“As we all know, you’re on the phone it seems like it can take several minutes for someone to get there when in reality it’s only been 30 seconds,” said 911 operator Vic Rule.

Other calls are not so urgent. “We get a lot of calls on the 911 lines that start, “Well this is not really an emergency,” Enyart said.

Even when 911 is the right number to call, some responses are more haunting than others.

If you call 911 accidentally, do not hang up. 911 operators have to return every hang up and gather information. That can tie up the line, making it harder for people with true emergencies to get through.

You can also view part one of this series, Inside 911: The job of an operator.

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videoThey are there whenever we need them, but 911 operators have an often thankless job. No matter how big or small the emergency, they take the time to walk us through our time of crisis.

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