Awareness and tips for emergency calls emphasized during National 9-1-1 Education Month

  • Published
  • By Brandon Barksdale, Fire Inspector Fire and Emergency Services, DLA Installation Management Richmond

National 9-1-1 Education Month is observed annually in the month of April. The 9-1-1 system serves as the vital link between the public and emergency responders. It is intended as a nationwide telephone number and gives the public fast and easy access to a public safety answering point.

Tips for calling in an Emergency:

  • Try to remain calm. You are the eyes and ears of the dispatcher, so the more composed you are, the better they can understand your needs.
  • If the area is unsafe, evacuate first and then call 9-1-1 as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • Know your location to include building number, bay or floor, room or cube number and in which side of the building you are located. Avoid using directorate names like the Union, J6, or National Guard.
    • If not in a building, know the lot number or nearest landmark. If using a building as a landmark, please advise on which side of the building you are located.
  • Know the number of the phone you are calling from and an alternate cell number if you are evacuating the area.
  • Be patient, let the dispatcher lead the conversation.
    • Answer their questions and try not to interject or ramble as this will delay the response. There are certain questions they must ask, depending on the type of call; this allows the dispatcher to dispatch the appropriate units.
  • Follow the directions provided by the dispatcher. You may be given direction on how to perform medical treatments, evacuate the area, or send someone to meet the responders.
  • Do not hang up until told to do so by the dispatcher; they may need more information or need to give you pre-arrival instructions.
    • If you call 9-1-1 by mistake, stay on the line and advise the dispatcher it was a mistake. If you are unable to respond, police officers will be dispatched to your location to check on you.
  • All calls are prioritized and dispatched in order of severity.
  • For emergencies, dial 9-1-1, as those calls are answered before non-emergency business lines.

If calling 9-1-1 from a cell phone or non-government landline, off-base civilian dispatchers will answer your call. Please advise them that you are calling from Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland or Chapman Training Annex, provide the dispatcher with detailed information including your exact location on the installation and what the emergency is. The civilian dispatcher will transfer your call to JBSA dispatchers so on-base fire and emergency services can respond to your location.

Fun Fact: 9-1-1 was chosen as the U.S. national emergency phone number during the days of rotary telephones. The 9 and the 1 were considered easy to find on the dial and quick to operate. According to a news story by WHNT News19 in Huntsville, Alabama, the state’s former Senator Rankin Fite completed the first 9-1-1 call made from his office in Haleyville on Feb. 16, 1968.