New rules for 911 calls include no hang ups
One the most valuable resources we are able to provide to our communities is the 911 Emergency phone system. It is hard to remember what it was like prior to the introduction of this dedicated line. In 2014 the Kewaunee County Dispatch Center received 9,251 calls for service. Of these calls 1,067 were for EMS and 131 were for fire calls, most of which came into our office through the use of the 911 system.
Over the years, enhancements have been made and technologies have improved to provide the best possible service to the caller. One of the first improvements was Enhanced 911, which would provide the address where the call originated. While this provided some great information, it only applied to land lines. With the advent of cellphones and the subsequent transition of many from land lines as a primary service to cellphones, further advancements were needed.
I can recall many times when a 911 call would come in from a cellphone and the caller was unable to provide location information. You can imagine the series of questions that had to be asked in an effort to pinpoint the caller’s location and get services to them and the frustration on both ends of the line.
We now have GPS coordinates registering when a 911 call comes into dispatch, which gives us the actually location on a map regardless of whether it is at a residence or in the middle of a woods. This has made a critical difference in many calls not only when the caller is unaware of where they are, but in the event of a 911 hang-up.
This brings me to my next point about the use of the 911 service. If you have accidentally dialed 911, please do not hang up when we answer. Simply stay on the line and answer the questions that the dispatcher asks so that the call can be quickly closed out as simply an error. In 2014, there were 364 hang-up calls to 911, and each of these had to be followed up to determine whether or not an emergency actually existed.
While there is a statute regarding the misuse of the 911 service, we recognize that accidents happen. However, it is important to note that misuse of 911 is a serious matter and that for every non-emergency call placed through the 911 system there is the chance that an actual 911 call for help will not get through.
If you need to contact dispatch for a non-emergency, please use our direct line of (920) 388-7108. Also if you are calling from a cellphone, 311 will connect you with the non-emergency line for your local dispatch. Be aware that when using a cellphone for either 911 or 311, you may not get the dispatch center from the county you are actually in, especially if you are in areas close to jurisdictional boundaries.
You may be in the western part of Kewaunee County and upon dialing 911 be connected with Brown County Dispatch. No worries. We have protocols in place where these calls are immediately transferred to the appropriate county; again, do not hang up!
The next generation of 911 services will most likely include the ability to text into a dispatch center, as that mode of communication becomes ever increasingly popular. The struggle will be for local agencies to keep up with the changes in technology while maintaining the same level of service.
We should all be very grateful for the men and women on the other end of the line when we are in a moment of crisis and make use of the 911 Service. I am sure that they would appreciate a call back some time on the non-emergency line thanking them for what they do!
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: New rules for 911 calls include no hang ups