What is 9-1-1?
9-1-1 is the nationwide police, fire, and ambulance emergency number. 9-1-1 should be used as an easily remembered and accessed number to report fires, medical problems, and crimes in progress. The technicians who answer at the Aspen-Pitkin County Communications Center are trained to provide medical and life safety instruction.
When should I use 9-1-1?
Use 9-1-1 to save a life, report a fire, stop a crime. 9-1-1 is the right number to call in an emergency when a prompt response is needed. There could be a fight or an assault occurring right now, a fire burning, or a medical problem occurring now which could be life threatening.
What should I expect when I dial 9-1-1?
The most important thing to remember when dialing 9-1-1 is to remain calm. We can assist you much faster and more effectively if you are calm, able to provide the required information, and able to listen to instructions and follow them.
When you reach APCCC with a 9-1-1
You will be greeted with the phrase, "9-1-1 where is your emergency?" or "9-1-1 what is the address of the emergency?" Please note that the first question asked is where. This is because as long as we know where the problem is we can send someone to help or transfer you to the appropriate agency. The next question you will hear is, "What is the phone number are you calling from?" This is because we want to be able to reach you if the line is disconnected. The third question is, "Okay, tell me exactly what happened." Most people expect us to ask what is happening immediately, but as you can see we don't ask that until we know where and how to re-contact you. It has been determined that this is the most effective and safest way to answer a 9-1-1 call.
Okay, I've told you where, how to reach me, and what is happening…now what?
If you have called because of a medical emergency, then your calltaker will refer to their Emergency Medical Dispatch Protocols. These are tools to help us determine the best way of helping the person in need. You will be asked questions such as, "How old is s/he?" and "Is s/he awake?" Once we determine the most pressing medical problem we will be asking more specific questions relating to that problem. If you know the answers please provide them so we have the best opportunity to help. If you don't know the answer to any of the questions we ask please state so. At the end of the questioning we will provide you with caregiving techniques to assist you in helping the patient until responders arrive.
If you have called to report a fire you can expect to be asked such questions as,
"What is on fire?
Is anyone trapped? Is the fire near any other structures or vehicles?" The more information you can provide to us, without endangering yourself or others, the better we are able to serve you.
If you are reporting a crime in progress the highest priority is to ensure your safety. Once you are safe we will obtain critical information about the crime so the responding officers know how best to proceed. Please listen carefully to the instruction we provide and the questions we ask, you can make a difference.
I've given you the information and listened to instructions, now what should I do?
Now that we've sent people to help and obtained the critical information from you we will either ask you to stay on the line with us in case the situation changes or instruct you that is O.K. to hang up now. Please don't hang up until you are instructed to do so, there are many reasons we would ask you to remain on the line.
Some Do's and Don'ts
- Remain calm. This is very important. If you are calm you will be able to help more efficiently.
- Let the calltaker ask you questions. There is very specific information we need to know and sometimes we need to know it in a very specific order. Try your best to answer the questions that are posed to you.
- Be prepared to give full location information including street address, city, state, apartment number, room location, which floor, etc. In this time of cellular proliferation your call may be routed many miles from where you are, in which case we will need to determine exactly which agency can best help you if it is not within our jurisdiction. Also, if you cannot give an address, be aware of your surroundings. Mile markers, mountains, landmarks, direction of travel, gps position, and many other factors can assist us in determining where to send help.
- Be patient. It may seem like nothing is being done to help, but in reality we are doing many things. We will be sending people to help you, assessing our resources, and asking you question to help identify the best way to proceed. Sometimes it feels like it's taking forever for help to arrive, but we are doing our best to combine safety and speed.
- Follow directions. We may be giving you very specific instruction about minimizing the danger to yourself or helping those in need.
- Stay on the line until told to do otherwise.
- NEVER call 9-1-1 for a non-emergency. Doing so occupies an emergency line and emergency personnel that are needed to help others. The general phone number for the police departments can be found in the government pages of the phone book, they are usually blue and located near the front, or on this website at the phone numbers page.
- NEVER call 9-1-1 for information. If you have a power outage, you see the police or fire and ambulance drive by, or you are stuck in traffic tune into a local radio station or call the appropriate phone number. We are not an information service and will not provide information on an emergency line.
- If you mistakenly dial 9-1-1, do not hang up. Stay on the line and explain what happened to the calltaker. If you hang up before we confirm there is not an emergency, we will call you back. If we can't reach you when we call back, we will send an officer to investigate. This is done not as a punishment, but to make sure everyone there is safe.
- Don't assume we know your name, address, and phone number. We have a 9-1-1 system that usually gives us that information if you are calling from home or work, but it does not always do so. Even if your information is displayed for us, we MUST confirm the information.
- Don't assume we know what is happening. When you call us you are our eyes and ears, we will use the information you have to help you but we must know what is happening in order to do so.
- Please don't hang up until told to do so.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about 9-1-1. We are here to help you in an emergency situation and look forward to seeking a positive resolution should you ever need to call.