Message from the Chief – 911, an Inside Look – What happens when someone dials 911? What information must one be prepared to share? Are the dispatchers busy? How do people know their call will be taken seriously?
Many have questions about 911 communications, and others have expressed concerns about their experience calling in. For a while there, it seemed like this division would never receive a fair shake for the hard work they do, mostly because people do not understand their abruptness. 911 communications is one of the busiest and consistently, the most stressful divisions within any public safety department. Everything tends to start with, pass through, or somehow end up in the 911 emergency communications center. From answering phones, radios, walk-ins, to keeping a watchful eye over field operations and staff, the single most important position within the police department is that of an Aransas Pass Telecommunications Officer.
In this message, I will focus on our 911 communications service. The goal is to help one understand what goes on within this division and how callers can prepare to have their emergency properly and expeditiously handled when dialing 911 in Aransas Pass.
Important Notice: Dialing 911 on a Cell Phone
Keep in Mind
When calling 911 from a home, business, or other land-based phone system, the phone number you’re calling from usually determines how your call is routed. Ninety-nine percent of the time one will not experience a problem reaching the proper 911 center on a landline, old copper connection.
Cell phones, however, are processed quite differently. Cell phones transmit a signal to the nearest cellular tower. The tower relays the signal to the closest 911 center. When the cell tower misroutes a 911 call, the dispatcher must forward the caller to the appropriate 911 facility.
As is the case in Aransas Pass, some of our cell towers currently direct 911 callers to other 911 jurisdictions. When calling in, it’s important to inform the dispatcher of one’s detailed location (City and Address).
Calling 911 or Non-Emergency Line, Be Prepared
- Location is paramount, knowing it is vital for our emergency responders (view surroundings and be prepared to share what you see),
- Remain calm – shouting, screaming, & talking over us to tell long stories delays our response.
- Pay attention and answer all questions asked (what’s not important to you, is very important to us if we ask),
- Public safety matters only please. Please, please, please, do not call us for power outages, travel directions (not related to our locations), or phone numbers to other businesses.
The dispatcher doesn’t have time to listen to long-winded stories, relate to your problem, or explain his or her actions to you. The dispatcher’s primary goal is to get you the emergency personnel requested and to do so both expeditiously and efficiently.
Our emergency responders are there to spend time with you, to help resolve your emergency. Please be mindful and forgiving if the dispatcher comes off sounding rude, short, or abrupt, they care for you and your concern and are working diligently to get you the response needed; they most certainly do not intend on coming off that way.
Take a Glimpse Inside Dispatch
This is a brief glimpse inside our 911 communications division, otherwise referred to as dispatch. This video demonstrates the level of responsibility our dispatchers bear and how stressful their job can be.
In this video, we took excerpts from two different emergency events. The audio recordings have been time synced, as dispatchers have to listen to all points of communication while at the same time operate a computer and organize an event response.
Their job is not an easy one and is not for everyone. However, we all (emergency crews and public) depend on them and their skills.
We appreciate all 911 emergency telecommunications officers everywhere, thank you for what you do and for keeping us safe!
Strange Emergency Calls
The following are just a few examples of calls received by our 911 communications center.