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What to Expect When You Call 911

Hopefully you will never need to call 911, but if you do, it should be comforting to know that the person you will be talking to is a trained professional who handles many different types of emergencies every day.

The person you will talk to at the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service Emergency Communications Center is a trained Public Safety Call Taker, and also a licensed Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) who is uniquely trained to provide clinical expertise for pre-hospital emergencies. This person is considered the first “first responder” and will provide specific instructions on what to do for this emergency or how to care for the victim until firefighters and paramedics arrive. The Public Safety Call Taker will systematically guide you through the process with unique questions and directions based upon the specific nature of the emergency.

The first few questions the Public Safety Call Taker will ask include the address of the emergency, telephone number, the caller’s name and type of emergency.

If it's a fire related call, the Public Safety Call Taker will ask where the fire is, the status of the occupants and have them leave the structure.

If it's an EMS call, the Public Safety Call Taker will ask the age, conscious and breathing status of the victim. As soon as the Public Safety Call Taker receives these three pieces of pertinent information, emergency units will be simultaneously dispatched to the scene of the emergency while the Public Safety Call Taker remains on the telephone to obtain further information about the patient’s condition. Then, depending on the nature of call, the Public Safety Call Taker will ask anywhere from 3-10 more questions relating specifically to the medical emergency they are having. The Public Safety Call Taker will also provide Pre-Arrival Instructions/Post Dispatch Instructions when appropriate.

The following is an excerpt of a typical 911 call for a choking victim:

Based on the answers received, the Public Safety Call Taker will provide specific, step-by-step, potentially life-saving instructions. Remember, the paramedics are not being delayed during these additional questions and instructions.

Understanding the 911 process and being prepared will help Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service provide you with the most effective and timely assistance during an emergency.