Questions Asked by Dispatchers

Types of Questions Asked
Emergency dispatchers need to get accurate information to allow emergency responders to make the best decision on how to approach the situation. Callers will typically be asked:
  • Where
  • What
  • Your phone number
  • Who
  • When
  • Why (sometimes)
One common misconception of Public Safety Communications is that Emergency Communications Officers wait until finishing the call before sending help. During a true emergency, the Emergency Communications Officers work as a team. One remains on the line with the caller and passes on information to another Emergency Communications Officer, who dispatches Police Officers, Firefighters or other emergency personnel.

It is very important that you stay on the line during a call to 911. The Emergency Communications Officer will continue to ask you questions while responders are en route.

Purpose of the Questions
The information you provide a dispatcher is relayed to responding officers, paramedics or firefighters while they are on their way to the call. In emergencies, other dispatchers can notify emergency responders while the call taker is still asking you questions. A common misconception is that the responders are not being immediately notified because dispatchers are asking so many questions, but this is not the case. For things that are “in progress” basic questions are answered and then they are dispatched whether it be by the person taking the call or another dispatcher in the room.

Medical & Personnel Concerns
Dispatchers handling fire and paramedic calls must also consider the well-being of the public and the safety of the firefighters and paramedics. For Emergency Medical Services (EMS) calls Grand Traverse 911 uses a system call Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) to ascertain the situation of the medical call. This will not only help ensure that the right kinds of units are sent but it also helps determine whether they need to run emergent or not. With this system dispatchers can also provide pre-arrival care to help before medical responders are on scene.

What should I do if I call 911 by mistake?

If you call 911 by mistake, DO NOT HANG UP. Stay on the line and explain that you do not actually have an emergency. If a caller hangs up without stating the problem, the caller must be contacted in order to ensure that no actual emergency exists. This may involve the dispatching of an officer to your home or place of business in order to ensure that a problem does not exist.