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Calling 911 is a lesson that is learned by almost all Americans at an early age. If there is a crime, emergency, fire or a life threatening injury, we know to pick up the phone and dial those 3 numbers. But often times, we don’t think about the individuals who are always on the other end of our emergency calls.

Those who work in the Bowling Green Police Department Communications Center, also known as the 911 Center, are called Telecommunicators. Telecommunicators work in high stress and fast paced atmospheres answering 911 and non-emergency calls around the clock and dispatching police, fire, animal control and county fire calls for our community.

911 calls should ALWAYS be reserved for true emergencies. But let’s talk about what happens when someone calls 911. In order to correctly assess the situation for a prioritized response, you will be asked certain questions which are vital to the safety of the caller and the responding Officer(s).

When you call 911, the telecommunicator is automatically provided with the phone number and the location that you are calling from. You will be asked to verify this information since quite often individuals call 911 from locations other than where the incident is occurring. If you call 911 from a cell phone it is very important that you provide the location to the telecommunicator when using a cell phone.

 

Next, the telecommunicator will ask “what is your emergency.” At this point you should give a quick description of what occurred. Then you will be asked a series of questions which are extremely important to the proper handling of the call. These may include:

  • Is anyone injured?
  • How long ago did the incident occur?
  • Were there weapons involved and if so, what type?
  • Did the suspect flee, and if so, which direction?
  • What was the mode of transportation, a car, bike or on foot?
  • If a vehicle was involved, what was the description and what was the direction of travel?
  • What was the physical description of the suspect?
  • What was the clothing description?

Although these may seem like an unreasonable number of questions during an emergency, they are very important to emergency personnel. For example, if a robbery has just occurred and the suspect flees, the officers have a much better chance of apprehending the suspect if they have a good description of the suspect and the direction that was taken. More important, if the incident in question involved a weapon, the life of the Officer may depend on the information given.

One common misconception of 911 Communications is that telecommunicators wait until finishing the call before sending help. During a true emergency, the telecommunicators work as a team. One remains on the line with the caller and passes on information to another telecommunicator, 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 telecommunicator will continue to ask you questions while the police are en route.

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

If you need the police, but it is not of an emergency nature, please call the non-emergency line at 270-393-4000.