Calling 911 is something that most people hope they never do. But they understand that if or when they must call, they will quickly get the help they need. Most people think that the 911 process is as simple as calling 911 and people just show up at the emergency. However, the E911 Communication Center is not as simple as one may think. It involves complicated, highly technical equipment and procedures. It also takes some extremely skilled and dedicated personnel.
When a person calls 911, that call is routed to the closest E911 communications center. There is a significant difference between a 911 call from a land line and a cell phone. A land line is registered, and our enhanced E911 Center is provided with all the pertinent information from this caller such as location (which is mapped), caller identification, the district or zone, and a call history.
When 911 is called from a cell phone, the caller location must first be located by the cell tower. This is called Phase I location and is not accurate. The Phase II location is the actual GPS location of the caller and it can be mapped. The cell phone must have good service to get a Phase II location.
Once a 911 call is received and the initial caller information is provided, the dispatcher will begin to gather more information from the caller. They determine what is the emergency and what units to send. The dispatcher may be required to gather information from frantic callers who may not be able to communicate well. Dispatchers must remain calm during these high stress incidents and obtain the vital information.
Once enough information is gathered, the dispatcher will dispatch the appropriate units. This can involve law enforcement, fire department, or ambulance services. The call may also involve many supporting services that the dispatcher must contact and possibly dispatch to the call.
At the same time, the dispatcher is talking on the phone, talking on the radio, and typing the information into the computer aided dispatch (CAD) to record the events. The dispatcher records units responding, arriving, and going back in service. They also record any pertinent information pertaining to the call. All these actions can happen in just a few minutes or even seconds. It can be a very demanding process.
The citizens of Union County should be proud to know that they have an Enhanced 911 Communications Center with advanced technology. They also have highly trained and competent dispatchers who are dedicated to their job, their fellow public safety employees, and the citizens of Union County.