Tonawanda News

Local News

June 7, 2014

Police urge proper 911 usage

Tonawanda News — Erie County Commissioner of Central Police Services John Glascott is urging residents to use the emergency 911 call system properly during the upcoming summer months, when call volume increases dramatically.

He urged residents to only call 911 during emergencies. Non-emergency calls should be directed to the local police department’s seven-digit number.

Glascott also reminded locals of the questions they will be asked when they call 911 and how to properly answer them to ensure they receive a quick response.

“When you call 911, your call is answered by a civilian call taker whose first responsibility is to find out if this is an emergency, if someone is injured, if a crime is in progress, if there is a fire,” Glascott said. “It is very important that the caller know what questions will be asked of them and why the call taker needs to ask those questions.”

When calling 911, it is necessary to speak clearly and calmly so the dispatcher can record the necessary information, the press release from the county states. Dispatchers will ask where the incident is taking place, including information such as the apartment number, floor, suite number and color of the house. Those calling 911 will also be asked about the nature of the problem and who needs help, including physical and clothing descriptions, names if known and descriptions of vehicles. 

Dispatchers will also ask if the incident is in progress or if it happened some time ago. 

“The 911 call taker asks questions that are designed to produce a safe and appropriate public safety response in the least amount of time possible,” Glascott said. “Do not hang up until the call taker instructs you to. They may ask you to continue to update information for an in-progress incident or give you instructions on what to do until help arrives.”

In 2013, the Erie County Central Police Services Communications Division processed more than 550,000 calls to the 911 system. 

Glascott is also reminding residents that Text-to-911 is not currently available, but will be soon. Calling 911 is the only way to receive assistance in an emergency, and those who text 911 will receive a bounce-back message instructing them to call instead. 

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