Tips and Tricks:
- Write your cellular phone number on a sticker where you can see it
when you are using the cell phone.
The dispatcher will ask you for your callback number when you report
something, but many times people don't remember their cellular number,
or somebody else is driving the car and doesn't know it.
- Know where you are and know how to describe it. Remember that when you are
calling from a cellular phone, the dispatcher doesn't know where you are unless
you are able to describe your location. Before calling 911, figure out the name
of the road you are on, the nearest cross-street or mile marker, and the direction
you are travelling.
- Good example: "I'm on Highway 3, northbound, just passing Chico Way exit."
- Bad example: "I'm on the road that goes into town, right by the gas station."
The first thing you should tell the dispatcher is what kind of emergency you are
reporting and where it is in as few words as possible. Cellular phones often reach
a communication center in a remote area and your call will need to be transferred.
Knowing what kind of emergency you are reporting and where it is will help the dispatcher
quickly determine how to route your call. You can always fill in the details later.
- Good example:"I'm reporting a drunk driver on Highway 16 near the Tacoma bridge."
- Bad example:"Hi there. My name is Bob Smith and my phone number is 123-4567 and there is this car,
it looks like a red car, maybe a plymouth and the license plate is...."
Let the dispatcher control the conversation. Once you have stated briefly what type
of emergency you have and where it is taking place, the dispatcher will ask you a series of
questions. They will ask you the most important questions first in case your cellular signal
fades out and the call is lost (it happens quite often.)
- Good example: (DISPATCHER)"Can you describe the car?"
(YOU)"It is a red station wagon."
- Bad example: (DISPATCHER)"Can you describe the car?"
(YOU)"I think I have seen it around town before.
Maybe it belongs to someone here. I think it is going into..." *phone batteries die*
Try to remain as calm as you can. If you are screaming into the phone, it is not likely
that the dispatcher will be able to understand you. If you are too upset to speak calmly, see
if there is another person nearby that can talk on the phone for you.
- Good example:"She has a head injury and possibly an injured back."
- Bad example:"Oh my gosh!! There is blood everywhere! Help! Help!!! AAAAAAAAAA!!!"
Remember that if you are reporting an unsafe or possibly drunk driver, you
need to call right away. If you wait for 30 minutes after you last saw the
vehicle, there is very little that can be done about it. Nobody can be arrested
for drunk driving or issued a ticket for speeding based on your report alone. An
officer has to actually SEE the person break the law to issue a ticket or stop the car.
- Good example:"A car just passed me doing 80 miles per hour at least."
- Bad example:"I was driving on the highway yesterday, and there was this car going really fast."
Don't ever try to keep up with a speeding vehicle so that you can give reports on its position.
Remember, if you are going as fast as it is, you are just as much a problem as the driver you are
reporting! Don't ever put yourself in an unsafe position by staying close to a drunk driver. Get
as far away as you can and call 911.
- Good example:"I just saw a motorcycle going 100 miles an hour."
- Bad example:"I followed a drunk driver to the supermarket and let all the air out
of his tires while he wasn't looking so he can't get away. Would you send an officer out here now?"
Use this form to send me your hints and tips for 911 users:
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