Comments: 234 • Responses: 70 • Date: 2013-01-14 05:14:25 UTCsource
KillTheKinderPS349 karma2013-01-14 06:25:17 UTC
I'm sorry for calling the police 5 times when I was younger ):
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FlashinMyN00bies143 karma2013-01-14 06:27:18 UTC
collegeguy1322 karma2013-01-14 16:31:43 UTC
Where are you from? When I was 5, I called" 9-1-1" 7 times while at the Oakland airport because "my dad was being mean to me" They delayed all the flights and about 15+ cops and ambulances came.
tl;dr my father was pushing me to get moving through the airport and I called the police to shut down an international airport.
FlashinMyN00bies4 karma2013-01-15 22:56:04 UTC
That's amazing. I work in southern VA, not near any commercial airports, thank goodness.
wittybanana20 karma2013-01-14 05:22:22 UTC
What's the weirdest call you've gotten?
FlashinMyN00bies31 karma2013-01-14 05:29:13 UTC
When I was still in my probationary period, a man called in the wee hours of the morning, advised there was a robot ghost in his apartment with a knife to his throat. He said he was familiar with this ghost because he routinely spits in his coffee and turns off his heat. He called back shortly after to apologize, said it wasn't the ghost, he thinks he has a thyroid problem or throat cancer causing the pain in his throat. He then called a third and final time advising that he has bad teeth and the ghost punched one out and it lodged in his throat and that is where the pain was coming from and he would go get help in the morning.
sixcare14 karma2013-01-14 08:35:28 UTC
And your reply was?
FlashinMyN00bies24 karma2013-01-14 08:57:12 UTC
We treat all calls at face value, regardless if we know the person is a little "out of it." With his first call we went through our questions and got description information and everything we needed, then disconnected. He got a 2 car response from officers.
freethinkaa19 karma2013-01-14 06:51:15 UTC
Have you ever heard of Pulsepoint?? I'm the original developer on that project, and I was curious what an actual 9-1-1 dispatcher thinks of it. Everything I hear is once or twice removed. If you HAVEN'T heard of it, check us out and for sure let us know if this is something your town wants to implement. www.pulsepoint.org << we're non-profit! And saving lives :D
FlashinMyN00bies11 karma2013-01-14 07:22:02 UTC
That's a great idea from what I read on that site. How exactly is it adapted though? When my call type is changed to cardiac arrest does it send an alert to the GS with the app with the location of the call?
freethinkaa9 karma2013-01-14 07:43:51 UTC
So the way it is implemented is that we write wrappers for existing dispatch systems that allow dispatchers to also post their data to pulsepoint (using a simple REST api). It supports a lot of different kinds of incident types, one of which is 'medical emergency'. The dispatcher has the option to check a "may need cpr" box. Our system, if the address is in a public area (we don't send CPR alerts for residential areas for privacy reasons), will find all of the people around that area who are registered to receive pushes for CPR events, and notify them. If you get such an alert, we later send you a survey via the app and we've collected some cool data from this.
If you're curious to see how many people get notified per CPR app, check out the twitter feed @1000livesaday
For instance, today in San Jose:
CPR Activation for @SJFD at 01:28 PM PST (N 1ST ST); 3 citizen responders just notified. #PulsePointSaves
CPR Activation for @SJFD at 01:28 PM PST (N 1ST ST); 3 citizen responders just notified. #PulsePointSaves
FlashinMyN00bies7 karma2013-01-14 08:01:43 UTC
That is really an amazing idea. Will definitely mention it for our meetings!
crazy_dude36012 karma2013-01-14 05:54:09 UTC
How often do you get prank calls?
FlashinMyN00bies34 karma2013-01-14 06:11:31 UTC
Very frequently. I'd say 1 out of 5 calls we get are butt-dials, which can be funny though. And children who are just learning what 9-1-1 is call pranking a lot, pretending to gag, then giggling. Don't laugh so much when the officer turns up at their door though.
oddlymisshapen10 karma2013-01-14 10:30:21 UTC
How much do you get paid?
FlashinMyN00bies9 karma2013-01-14 10:38:15 UTC
About $30k/year. But that pay differs a lot from center to center and depends on the hours you work.
nateybobo3 karma2013-01-14 14:57:36 UTC
spain-train5 karma2013-01-14 15:34:20 UTC
30k is well above average FAMILY income in Arkansas, so I'd consider that fortunate. Typical dispatcher here in Arkansas makes less than $10 an hour, usually makes no more than $18-19k
Crazee1084 karma2013-01-14 16:21:54 UTC
The amount of money the "average" American makes, SHOCKS me. I work at a movie cinema and earch at least 20p/h. Wtf America?
Edit: i live in australia.
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-16 01:12:45 UTC
Land of the free. Because otherwise we couldn't afford it.
Neddih1 karma2013-01-15 01:21:35 UTC
Try being an EMT. The lucky fucks who get paid an average $10 an hour to run calls basically nonstop for 24 hours. The ones who deal with these people for longer than a 1-2 minute phone call. I respect dispatchers, but what we deal with is no way compensated by money. I guess that's why they say not everyone can do our job.
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-16 01:21:53 UTC
I respect your position but not much for the ems agencies here. One is volunteer and one is a paid service. Volunteer almost never have more than one transport out at a time unless its an MVC and the paid agency normally takes 10+ minutes to get on scene.
Compared to our ens agencies we do more. Ems here goes on one call, clears, goes to the next call. We have to cover police, fire, rescue and any behind the scenes paperwork and duties. Most of the time we are so busy I can get up to get some food (which we always have to eat at our desks) or even use the bathroom. Meanwhile out volunteer agency has been know to finish their meal at a restaurant before taking any calls.
However I did do an EMS ride-along and I do respect the position.
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-15 22:07:27 UTC
Not here. Some cities like LA and NY get upwards of $70k. Location, location, location, I guess.
iamaredditer8 karma2013-01-14 05:22:27 UTC
What is the craziest call you have had?
FlashinMyN00bies31 karma2013-01-14 05:36:57 UTC
The strangest one i just replied to the previous comment, but once had a few calls from a female that isn't a stranger to 9-1-1. Said she is hiding in her room because "they," are in her living room. She never said who these people were, just that they were moving their chains and closing all of her cabinets. Said it also sounded like they were throwing bodies up against the walls. Sweet lady though, stayed on the line and chatted with me until she saw the flashing lights outside. Said her boyfriend didn't do anything to stop, "them," and she thinks she is going to have to let him go because they argue a lot and she already has him sleeping on the floor because he wets the bed.
Serious plot twist, when officers got there, she was the only one there.
techiebabe1 karma2013-01-15 02:59:29 UTC
If it was a prank call that would be annoying, but when someone really is that mentally unwell I guess all you can do is go with it and sympathise, thinking 'there but for the grace of god...'
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-16 00:36:55 UTC
Yes. We take every call seriously and handle it professionally regardless of how it sound or what we know about the caller. That caller really did believe everything she was saying, the least I could do is help comfort her.
benjiiieee8 karma2013-01-14 06:02:13 UTC
Have you ever owned someone who is obviously pranking? Or can you not usually tell?
FlashinMyN00bies34 karma2013-01-14 06:19:34 UTC
Not really, mostly because all of our calls are recorded and monitored. Once my co-worker told the kid to put his parent on the line because he was Santa... actually worked. Once I had a butt-dial where some guy was yelling at his girlfriend about cats, all about how she cared more about the cats than him and he didn't give a shit about damn cats. When I called back I asked if the cats were all okay.
...not much but I thought it was funny.
TeBags8 karma2013-01-14 15:22:14 UTC
Well were they okay? This is Reddit you know!
FlashinMyN00bies5 karma2013-01-15 22:08:45 UTC
Yes, he begrudgingly said they were perfectly fine, thank goodness.
MistressMalevolentia2 karma2013-01-14 15:24:12 UTC
I find the cats one hilarious. I mean 911 just called him asking about the thing he just yelled at his girlfriend about how he hates. What was his reaction? I would have been spooked and thinking I'm being bugged or something. Hilarious visual lol.
FlashinMyN00bies2 karma2013-01-15 22:11:15 UTC
At first he just blew off my call, like most do, saying he was sorry it just dialed in his pocket. When I asked about the cats though I could tell I pushed his buttons. Pretty funny.
daWTF1 karma2013-01-14 23:08:21 UTC
How do you feel about that 4 yo who called 911 and asked for help with math? Do you think that was fake?
Edit: that sounded less naive in my head. Please still answer the question though.
FlashinMyN00bies2 karma2013-01-16 01:26:45 UTC
I believe it was real. Kids are just told to call 9-1-1 when they need help so that's what he did. Pretty funny.
Jacizzle7 karma2013-01-14 05:51:54 UTC
I live in Australia so I'm sure our protocols are different but probably somewhat similar. I've called emergency twice in my life. The first was when my mother had a stroke and the person in your position was very speedy and my mum got to hospital in under 15 minutes. However the second time I had to call was a car accident where a truck rolled on the highway. When they asked the location they got very frustrated with me because I was on a highway and all I could tell them was that it was northbound near a town. Is this normal or are we lacking in Australia?
FlashinMyN00bies6 karma2013-01-14 06:07:15 UTC
We have a few highways going through and around our city, it can be frustrating getting an exact location because normally people don't pay that close attention every second they are driving and sometimes there are no monuments or signs nearby. The dispatcher shouldn't get an attitude though. Here, when we get a 9-1-1 call from a cell phone, the call plots on our map, it isn't an exact location but it helps to give us a general area where the call is coming from.
Jacizzle3 karma2013-01-14 09:38:22 UTC
I told the dispatcher that it was 1km past the exit for the town and right near a fixed speed camera and they still said it wasn't enough information. Eventually because enough people called I think they got a GPS placement and lucky it wasn't as serious as it first seemed otherwise we could have lost precious time.
FlashinMyN00bies8 karma2013-01-14 09:46:32 UTC
I don't think there is an excuse for that. You had a general area. An officer could be sent to look in that area, that's what we do.
daWTF1 karma2013-01-14 23:05:10 UTC
All the cops really had to do was drive towards that town and then look for a massive wreck.
Also, I'm a boy scout and I've been taught many things about how to respond to emergencies and be prepared and stuff like that. My biggest concern is that one day I'll be driving on the highway and I won't be able to describe my location good enough for emergency response teams to well... respond. Is this a problem? And if so what are some pointers?
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-16 00:10:36 UTC
Exactly and that is what we have our officers do.
Really I would advise you to know what route you are on and what direction you are headed. Through that we can get a general area. If you know you had already passed a certain exit or know how long it was going to take you to get to the exit you were looking for, that also helps. You just need to describe where you are as best you can and we will get you help any way that we can.
ecurtis6 karma2013-01-14 09:50:09 UTC
Have you or any other dispatcher you know ever talked a woman and/or her husband through childbirth?
FlashinMyN00bies5 karma2013-01-14 10:02:58 UTC
Personally I haven't had any eminent childbirth calls, but the shift opposite mine delivered a child a few weeks ago! Pretty rare in a city as small as mine and exciting when it does happen, mostly we get in labor calls, but our ambulances get there before we need to give any birthing instructions.
FlashinMyN00bies4 karma2013-01-14 10:03:59 UTC
TG_Alibi6 karma2013-01-14 12:39:51 UTC
Also have over ninety 10-codes memorized though they are not really allowed to be used anywhere anymore, but some older officers find that a hard habit to break.
Also have over ninety 10-codes memorized though they are not really allowed to be used anywhere anymore, but some older officers find that a hard habit to break.
Why? And what has replaced 10-codes?
FlashinMyN00bies3 karma2013-01-14 13:19:31 UTC
I have them memorized because some of the officers that have been with the dept for a long time got used to using them and can't stop, just makes my job easier so I don't always have to say, "what is 10-76?" on the radio.
Most all departments have stopped using them and instead just use plain english. Each jurisdiction had different 10-codes, they weren't universal, except for 10-4 obviously, and when jurisdictions would help one another messages were confused. When 10-45 meant "subj with weapon" in our jurisdiction but meant "on scene" in the next, it made for a hazard for officer safety. So they were just collectively thrown away.
ttemporary1 karma2013-01-14 16:49:35 UTC
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-15 22:57:26 UTC
Last I heard you weren't supposed to be using them. We still use them.in daily operations but have to use plain english when working with outside jurisdictions.
iareziga6 karma2013-01-14 13:39:33 UTC
Honestly...what is your opinion on NWA's song Fuck Tha Police?
FlashinMyN00bies19 karma2013-01-14 14:11:47 UTC
6/10. Good message, okay beat.
TheOneOg5 karma2013-01-14 08:05:50 UTC
How do you become a 9-1-1 Dispatcher?
FlashinMyN00bies4 karma2013-01-14 08:19:34 UTC
I was employed through my city. I went to the city site and saw a posting for an open position as a 911 telecommunicator. After applying I had to go through a 6-mo hiring process in which I had to complete a Nelson-Denny test, simulation test, interview, drug test, psychological evaluation and polygraph. After that I was offered a probationary offer where I would be hired as a full-time training employee until I passed all necessary certifications and had enough supervised experience.
tina00872 karma2013-01-14 20:08:47 UTC
What kind of questions did they ask for the polygraph ?
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-15 23:41:21 UTC
Everything from my name, address and favorite color, to crimes I've committed or illegal things I've participated in. About 90 questions if I recall. Supposedly they can't hire or fire you based on the results (which seems either a lie or waste of money to me) but I answered honestly, even if I didn't think the answer would help, but I got hired so I guess they were just looking for honesty. Was scared the whole time though, its a very nerve-racking experience.
tarrgustarrgus4 karma2013-01-14 14:51:13 UTC
I have only called once, when my coworker had a seizure, the boss yelled at me to call 911. I freaked out. She was turning white, foaming at the mouth, and shaking everywhere. It was really scary. The dispatcher actually laughed at me being so scared. I did not appreciate it. I do not deal with emergency situations well.
FlashinMyN00bies5 karma2013-01-15 22:06:12 UTC
Im sorry for that experience, that is very unprofessional. It is a scary situation.
ephalumps4 karma2013-01-14 12:40:05 UTC
In the case of a buttdial, what happens? Do you call that person back or what?
FlashinMyN00bies4 karma2013-01-14 13:22:08 UTC
We wait for the line to disconnect, or if it is open for several minutes and we don't notice any sounds of duress we hang up, then call it back and send anofficer officer if there is no answer or if we have a good idea where the call came from.
ItsMrEMT3 karma2013-01-14 14:37:28 UTC
Congrats keep up the good work. I have a friend who I went thru EMT school with she, had to get her EMT before she could even apply for a dispatching position. Is being a an EMT not required where your at?
FlashinMyN00bies2 karma2013-01-15 21:51:46 UTC
Its not required here. I do have to be certified in CPR and AED, so I can give those instructions if I have to and also had to ride along for 12hrs with each police, fire and EMS, so I understand how they operate in the other side of the radio.
SovetskyWalruz3 karma2013-01-14 13:38:04 UTC
What is the most stupid call you've had? Also has someone ever repeatedly called even after you told them they didn't have a reason to?
FlashinMyN00bies3 karma2013-01-16 01:51:12 UTC
The calls I think are stupid are ones people call 9-1-1 for that I don't think a response is necessary for. Example: lady called the other day (on 9-1-1) to say that the dog that is in her neighbors porch is not tied up and he often gets loose and tonight is garbage night and he may get in her trash... had to waste an officers time.
We get drunk callers a lot. They call so we send an officer, but they wont answer the door because they don't want to get arrested for DIP. And then it repeats. Eventually officers and write a ticket or something for abusing the 9-1-1 system.
BarmackAttack3 karma2013-01-14 14:48:30 UTC
First of, thanks for everything that you do. Now my question...
I have never had a serious personal incident where I had to call 9-1-1, but I am always worried that if I did the response time wouldn't be fast enough (for some reason when I imagine myself having to call 9-1-1 its because someone is in my house trying to murder me). Do you get much feedback on whether your responders are generally able to arrive on scene quickly enough to be effective, or whether there are many instances of "we got there too late?"
FlashinMyN00bies3 karma2013-01-15 22:04:35 UTC
Im my city, if we have the units available, response time to any area is typically 5-9 minutes depending on where the unit is. I've had a few calls that were time-sensitive but the only ones to have a "too-late" turn out were EMS related (mostly cardiac arrests when the caller could not/refused CPR). But honestly, it depends on the city, how many units are available and how the call goes. If the center you are using has ProQA or BARD dispatch cardsets, the fastest way to get a response is to answer every question asked.
In my center there are only 3-5 dispatchers in one small room, so if I get a call where someone says someone is in their house, I get the address, tell my partners that we need officers there asap, get the caller to a safe part of the house then continue my questions. Anything I can do to help cut any precious time.
ilovepixar3 karma2013-01-14 08:28:25 UTC
Though I live in one of the safest cities not only in California but in the US, I find myself calling 9-1-1 probably 2-3 times a year. Sometimes it's because of a car accident, and sometimes it's just a simple traffic light that's out. I am, however, unsure what is appropriate for 9-1-1 and if there is an alternative for situations that aren't necessarily an immediate emergency. For example, I once had someone fire-spinning across the street from my house in a public park after hours. I did worry about, you know... my house catching fire from the nearby trees, but nobody was in immediate danger so I didn't call because I was unsure if it was appropriate. Can I get in trouble if I have completely good intentions?
Also thank you for what you do. Fun fact- last year a wooden 20-foot boat fell off the back of someone's car and hit me on the freeway. The 9-1-1 dispatcher thought I was joking about hitting a boat on the freeway and didn't take me seriously. It got sorted out though after a bit of explaining.
FlashinMyN00bies2 karma2013-01-14 08:53:51 UTC
Oh my gosh, I'm glad you are okay!
Really I haven't seen anyone get in trouble for abusing 9-1-1 bless they persistently call using vulgar language toward us or the officers keep having to go to their address for no reason. I personally prefer if someone calls to report something they think is small, than not at all because some of the most serious calls for service we have had originated with one or no callers. Better safe than sorry.
That said, in my center we get some calls to 9-1-1 that really should have come in to out administrative lines; such as calls about a puppy loose in the neighborhood or someone calling for advice on a speeding ticket. Our 9-1-1 lines are a top priority, we answer them before anything else and can not disconnect unless the caller does, so having open lines or talking to someone for 10 minutes about raccoons in trash cans ties up those lines. But really, if you have a genuine concern I don't think you'd be in any trouble at all.
MaFknSimba3 karma2013-01-14 10:03:58 UTC
can not disconnect unless the caller does
can not disconnect unless the caller does
Have you had anyone who has not had a real emergency that refused to hang up? Also, how long has your longest call been?
Btw thank you for your work, your the hero behind the scenes.
FlashinMyN00bies3 karma2013-01-14 10:11:50 UTC
Thank you, that does mean a lot. And yes we do get those calls. Typically the officer makes then disconnect the line when they arrive on scene. Longest call I had was from a frequent caller who just talks; he calls, talking about life then fifteen minutes later, when he is done with you, he hangs up on you. But as far as actual emergency calls, we typically try to end them under 3-5 minutes to get them help unless in a case where someone wants us to stay on the line for comfort/safety; such as in cases where someone is inside of the callers house, those calls can last until the officer gets there, usually about 6-8 minutes after they are dispatched.
techiebabe1 karma2013-01-15 03:05:24 UTC
Can you transfer the non urgent calls? For example in the UK we have a number, 101, which is for non urgent calls to the police. And we have NHS Direct which is staffed by nurses and other medics for non critical medical advice. Assuming similar services exist where you are, could you transfer a non urgent call to the relevant phoneline, or do you have to treat each call with equal urgency even when you know it is just a stubbed toe or a report of street drinkers?
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-16 00:39:37 UTC
We need services like that, but this country is kind of screwed.
Here if someone calls emergency for something police-related that is not a pressing emergency we can transfer or refer them to a more direct number for the police department. Everything else however we send a response to, even toothaches and headaches.
beetnemesis2 karma2013-01-14 15:32:34 UTC
I once had to call 911 because my buddy had been passed out on the side of a road in winter for a good couple hours (had been drinking, he wandered off, we had to comb the streets for him)
Except... it was a dead zone. So I talked to a dispatcher for about 3 seconds, and then the call dropped. We eventually managed to find someone to drive him to a nearby hospital, and he was fine, but it was a bit nerve-wracking for a few minutes.
Anyway, my question is, if there's something like a dropped call, or the person you're talking to hangs up abruptly, what is the protocol?
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-15 22:25:03 UTC
In our city we have to send some kind of response no.matter the situations. Land-lines are easier to do this, but we have technology in our center to help us pinpoint cell calls too. When a cellphone calls, we get an icon to pop up on our map of where you call from. Now it can be a spot-on location or it could be off by a hundred yards. But it at least gives us a general area to look.
And i'm glad your friend is okay.
jpog072 karma2013-01-14 16:17:17 UTC
As a former dispatcher/911 operator, I approve of your message. One of my weirdest calls was when a woman called saying somebody had left a demon on her doorstep and she was really freaking out about it, hyperventilating, etc., so I made up a call. A unit called in and said they were nearby and asked for the call. Turned out to be a Darth Maul figure that a little kid had left there. (facepalm)
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-15 22:49:33 UTC
RerollWarlock2 karma2013-01-14 10:04:07 UTC
What is your opinion on dispatches in other countries, for example here in poland our 112 has some really bad stories behind it, for example:
-Uncouncious kid after a bicycle accident, but the dispatch refuses to send in a ambulance, the caller had to spend several minutes treatening the dispatch before he sent n help.
-Region selection is messed, ambulances and firetrucks are sometimes sent 30km+ to a accident which has a hospital and firestation almost next to it.
How would you comment it, and how would you feel about working in poland knowing that these situations (or even worse) are kind of common here?
FlashinMyN00bies3 karma2013-01-14 10:32:41 UTC
I don't know much about emergency operations in other countries. Its a shame that those things have happened and it seems like a procedural problem. Here, we have a procedure for every situation written in our policy and procedure manual, it covers every incident we would have to handle from animal carcasses on the side of the road to an airplane crash on the interstate. Also, we ALWAYS have to send some kind of help for every call we get, even if it is for someone who accidentally misdialed, we send an officer to make sure everyone is okay. As far as sending response crews great distances for incidents close to medical facilities, that seems like a big problem. Here, for every address listing, street and section of highway we have designated responders for that area and backup responders of the first is occupied (for example, fire station 1 covers third ave but if they are on another call then station 6 is the next closest station and they are given the call for service on third ave.)
Like I said in my original post, I love helping people. So I would not be opposed to working in a center like that if there were something I could do to make it better; perhaps by suggesting pre-incident planning, better training for employees and even implementing rules/guidelines that will make the dispatchers more productive, response crews more effective and give the callers the help they need as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Best of luck, and I honestly wish it better.
TheGrimGoodbye2 karma2013-01-14 14:39:53 UTC
Does working in this field make you look at humanity in general since you are constantly reminded how bad a person can be?
FlashinMyN00bies2 karma2013-01-15 21:55:14 UTC
Sometimes, yes. But im also reminded of how good people can be. Though it isn't often that we get happy calls, so that can bring you down a bit.
Kensmkv2 karma2013-01-14 15:16:30 UTC
Great AMA. Its nice to see folks working in this profession (or any other emergency/healhcare setting) for the love of helping others. This is why I am doing the whole nursing school thing. Keep up the good work, and Thank You.
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-15 22:07:55 UTC
Thank you for your work as well!
gingerbreaddan2 karma2013-01-14 15:28:43 UTC
What are the busiest times of the year? I would imagine it would be the holidays when everyone is fighting with the in-laws and cooking, but I don't really know. Similarly, what are the busiest shifts in a typical day?
FlashinMyN00bies2 karma2013-01-15 22:15:12 UTC
Busiest time of the year is actually summer, ever gets out and about to party and what-not.
At my center we work 12-hour shifts. Day shift (8-8) is the busiest by far. For mostly the same reason summer is so busy, more people are out and around each other and not getting along. Less calls when they are at home on Reddit.
unsilentninja2 karma2013-01-14 15:29:23 UTC
As a former dispatcher/911 operator, what was the one call where you felt like you were on an island and you were the only one that could do something? My trainer decided one night to leave me on my own and not jump in and I got a home invasion as my first call of the night. I have never felt so alone in my life.
FlashinMyN00bies2 karma2013-01-15 22:20:41 UTC
Sometimes since our center is small, we get just too much to handle. Ideally, the supervisor supervises, I call-take once call at a time and each of my partners dispatches the type of call they are assigned to (police, fire, rescue). But it never does work that way.
Those island feelings aren't rare in those situations. When everyone is on their own call, 9-1-1 lines are ringing off the hook and field units are keying in every second and I am on the line of a time sensitive call like that; its extremely scary. But I have the power to take that worried person on the other line and push a button to give them the help they need, so I do.
Though you felt powerless, im sure your supervisor was either listening to you the whole time, or was confident in that you would get the person, regardless of the situation, help. Did you?
iamaredditer2 karma2013-01-14 05:35:21 UTC
What is the scariest call you have taken?
FlashinMyN00bies12 karma2013-01-14 05:42:56 UTC
I've had a few actually. The ones that scare me the most are gunshot or stabbing victims or calls from those who were just robbed at gun or knife-point.
Had a call from a young woman, early twenties, who said she was bleeding. I assumed at first it was a cut or nose bleed but when I asked where she was bleeding from she said, "everywhere, I don't know," and was crying hysterically. She wouldn't answer any of my questions specifically so I sent an officer with the ambulance. Turns out she wasn't answering my questions because she didn't want to rat-out the boyfriend that stabbed her multiple times all around her torso. Last I heard she was still alive in the ambulance, but that's normally the last I hear, then have to let go and answer the next call.
ellowpowerranger3 karma2013-01-14 16:52:00 UTC
I'm an ex-pat living in Brazil (soon not to be). I was robbed at knife-point by 6 guys (15-18), when a bystander called the police the police told me to go to the nearest police station (I have no car, need to take the bus or walk) and report the crime myself.
When the bystander said he recognised some of the guys (knew their names and the neighbourhood they're from), the police still refused and said he needs to come to the station too.
I knew one day I would be robbed in this god-forsaken city (being a blonde-haired/white-skinned foreigner), but I never in a million years thought that police would refuse to send a patrol for aggravated robbery.
FlashinMyN00bies2 karma2013-01-15 22:59:30 UTC
That is terrible, i'm sorry for that. Here we don't make you do anything, you have the choice to have an officer sent to you or go to PD.
Racketmachine1 karma2013-01-14 19:52:15 UTC
How do you handle prank/fake calls? Also, how often does this kind of thing happen?
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-15 23:37:47 UTC
We treat all calls at face-value. Kid calls saying his house is on fire, laughs and hangs up, he gets a full response. We get prank calls a few times a week, its the open-line butt-dials that we get all of the time. A couple times an hour id say we get butt-dials. Pretty annoying when you have more pressing calls to answer.
JoopJoopSound1 karma2013-01-15 17:42:11 UTC
When we are being beaten up by cops and being harassed by them, who are we supposed to call and what are we supposed to say?
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-16 00:55:57 UTC
I've never had a caller who advised that. Speaking purely as a citizen and not as someone who works directly with officers, i think if you call 9-1-1 it could help. All of the calls are recorded, therefore you can have evidence that this is occurring. In our department we have a branch that looks into officer conduct and ensure they were in the right.
I know things like that happen around the country though, and it is a shame it does. Officers often abuse their power which is a shame because they are the people we look to to keep that from happening and ofter times having proof of the event is the only way to do anything about it.
"Now don't get me wrong I don't mean disrespect, there's a lot of good cops who serve and protect, they boldly put their lives on the line to protect our rights and give us piece of mind, but for every cop who thinks his badge is a crown, this song is for you and i'll never bow down." -Corey Smith
[deleted]1 karma2013-01-20 22:56:10 UTC
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-21 03:16:52 UTC
I figured FD didn't like those calls, we get them a lot; toothaches, earaches, even had a guy call because someone gave him crabs...
RemoCon1 karma2013-01-14 20:40:45 UTC
I appreciate what you guys do. One time I was driving through Charlotte at 2 in the morning, on a low tank of gas, and entered an unsavory neighborhood. I didn't know the area and was certain I would die or something. I panicked and called 9-1-1. The operator was really helpful about guiding me out of there and towards a gas station. I was so grateful I sent their branch a big box of chocolates later (it was Christmas.) I wonder if they ever got them.
Oh, and another time when I was five or six I saw a commercial for 9-1-1 that stated "Be a Hero. Dial 9-1-1." I wanted to be a hero, so I called the number. My mom got pretty upset about that.
Thanks for being patient.
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-15 23:42:54 UTC
Haha, the hero thing is funny. Its okay, im glad you have a good dispatcher.
unsafespeeds1 karma2013-01-15 02:42:57 UTC
When i call 9-1-1 do they know I've called before?
I think I've called 4 times since I lived here. (6 years or so)
First time, someone was breaking in downstairs. Took about 20 minutes for a SINGLE cop to show up - headquarters was blocks away. By that time the person had left. He never came to talk to me. Nothing. I could have told him who it was and everything.
Second two times were for shots fired in my area - which happens because there's a park nearby and a lot of stupid people here have guns and think that's a great place to fire off a few.
Last time i was on a highway with my dad in KC and someone in a dealers plate truck was weaving VERY badly across multiple lanes. I was on the phone with multiple offices for probably 15 minutes trailing this guy and giving them updated coordinates so they could pull him over. He eventually exited...got in the left turn lane...then turned right.
I hope they got him.
What was the longest call you've had to deal with where it was something "real" (versus a story..)
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-16 00:26:53 UTC
When you call we ask for your name and number (our caller ID already shows your number, but its just to verify. Its also optional to leave that info.) However we don't give caller information to anyone, it is just used for reference and to help. For instance, if you live at 456 anywhere st and someone is in your house and you disconnect before we get your address we can check the history of your phone number and see we had a call from that residence before and they gives us an area to start looking.
My longest call may have been about 15 minutes.
Vilhu1 karma2013-01-14 16:12:21 UTC
Hit me with a funny story
FlashinMyN00bies3 karma2013-01-15 22:46:51 UTC
Get calls where vehicle descriptions are needed, some people have a hard time thinking of words to describe the letters on the plate:
--"AOK 1234"( sample tags, obv)
Phonetically spells out "Applesauce, Oklahoma, K -as in- cake-- ah cat!"
Alligator, Bacon, x... x-rated...
--"DLE1234" (by officer)
Delta, Lima, X-ray (... ex...ray...)
How'd I do? 6/10?
latarian1 karma2013-01-14 17:14:47 UTC
Let's get some proof up in here OP.
FlashinMyN00bies2 karma2013-01-15 23:14:16 UTC
THCTuesdays1 karma2013-01-14 17:17:02 UTC
Do you dispatch officers to victimless crimes?
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-15 23:19:27 UTC
I dispatch officers to anywhere we have a call for service. Judging by your username I assume I know you are asking about and I haven't had a call to dispatch for anyone smoking weed. However, I have to do my job; if a call comes though of someone ratting someone for smoking weed, I have to give it out, regardless if I agree with the law.
Most of those taken to jail for possession of MJ were done so from self-initiated (by the officer) traffic stops; and thus out of my hands.
yafaca1 karma2013-01-14 17:50:04 UTC
Is the job really as stressful as people say it is?
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-15 23:26:30 UTC
Imagine sitting in a room with just three other people. You have six monitors in front of you each with a different purpose that are supposed to help you (radio, phone, etc.) Everyone around you is answering a different 9-1-1 call (you gear something about a motor-vehicle crash and someone else is giving CPR over the phone), now you alone are responsible for covering radio traffic because everyone else is busy, and officers are asking for keyholders for alarms, others requesting backup for a suspicious person and one just initiated on a foot pursuit of a wanted criminal from a solo traffic stop. There are also several fire units out on a structure fire and the front left side of the house just collapsed and EMS is running code to the hospital with one ofthe possibly several injured firefighters and they need more transports. What do you do?
Of course there are off days here and those days aren't frequent, but the happen, often. So yes its stressful.
rijnzael1 karma2013-01-14 21:41:45 UTC
When you run plates or licenses through VCIN for an officer, what do you say if the party has a permit to carry a concealed handgun? Are such things only associated with licenses, or can you tell when you run the plate at the beginning of the stop?
FlashinMyN00bies2 karma2013-01-15 23:54:49 UTC
Normally only the vehicle information come back for the tag (if there is a want on the vehicle, color, make, model and who and where it is registered to). Concealed carry normally only comes back when we run the drivers license.
rijnzael1 karma2013-01-16 01:50:38 UTC
Cool. What do you say to the officer when the subject comes back clear and valid with a permit to carry?
FlashinMyN00bies2 karma2013-01-16 02:02:41 UTC
"PD1234 - John Doe - 789 Anywhere Street, licensed, no want, showing concealed carry."
TheGroovyCamel1 karma2013-01-14 21:56:03 UTC
If there was a serious crime in progress and all you had to dispatch was either 100 duck sized horses or 1 horse sized duck, which would you send?
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-15 23:57:03 UTC
A horse-sized duck would sure scare the shit out of me, so hopefully it will scare the criminals long enough for an scrap officer to get there.
VanillaFlavoredCoke1 karma2013-01-14 23:00:32 UTC
What do you do in the situation where the caller does not exactly know where they are? Such as if you don't know the name of the road you are on and there was a car accident. Do you really use GPS to track the cell phone?
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-16 00:06:54 UTC
Typically we can get a general area of where you are from our phone system. It plots your call in a given area that can sometimes be extremely accurate but normally gives us a general area to check. Plus, motor vehicle crashes normally get called in by ever passer-by until officers show up and they normally know where they are.
However, in terms of tracking a phone, we can't do that unless there is a life-threatening emergency. For example if you said you were going to kill yourself by jumping off 'this' bridge; an officer can advise us to track your phone, then we have to go through your cellular provider and they give us last know coordinates. But that doesn't happen too often.
csloth1 karma2013-01-14 22:01:41 UTC
How often do you stay on the line with someone until help arrives? Is it often that a call begins at one severity level but increases due to changing circumstances on the caller's end?
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-16 00:01:01 UTC
All callers have the option to stay on the line with us but mostly they only stay on the line in severe medical emergencies, if they are trapped (such as in fire calls) or if they feel they are in immediate danger. Calls change priority frequently such as in cases where someones house was broken into and while officers are enroute, the caller sees someone upstairs or if there is a small fire in the backyard that has now reached the house.
techiebabe1 karma2013-01-15 02:48:16 UTC
What you said about people telling you the whole story made me stop and think. I tend to be verbose but one time Im NOT is if I have to call 999 (the UK equivalent of 911). I know they have set questions to ask, including things that may seem silly like whether someone is breathing, when Ive just said Im calling about a dislocated knee. I know that the sooner I answer, the sooner help is despatched and the sooner Ill get the chance to give any info that I want to add.
So my question is, why isnt 'how to make an emergency call' taught in schools? And what would you want to teach people, young or adult, about the process?
FlashinMyN00bies2 karma2013-01-16 00:33:09 UTC
I don't know why it isn't taught in schools to be honest, but it needs to be. Seeing as how we keep having budget cuts for education in my country (and wonder why our children are stupid) I don't think they'd want to waste what money they do have teaching someone about 9-1-1 (9-9-9).
Id just teach the class be explaining how we do things and why. Id just explain everything from "9-1-1 what's the address of your emergency" to "10-4 pd1234 clear from anywhere st."
People will get the help they need regardless but if they understand how it work, they can get that help so much faster.
azendeath1 karma2013-01-15 05:45:26 UTC
Is it true that when you call 911 its better to call with a house phone than a cell phone because you can trace the house phone but its harder to trace where the cell phone is?
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-16 00:41:22 UTC
It is harder to see where you are calling from on a cellphone. Though in my center we have a phone system that enables us to see a general area you are calling from on a cellphone. However if you know where you are when you call, its just as effective as calling from a house phone.
themismatch1 karma2013-01-15 07:46:57 UTC
How do you get a location from someone if they don't/can't tell it to you. (Let's say they called from a cell phone).
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-16 00:46:42 UTC
Our phone system is linked to the map in our CAD system. Our phones use an ALI system, (automatic location identification) which for landlines, tells us your address or for cellphones uses surrounding towers to attempt to pinpoint your location. It can be very accurate but can sometimes be off by many yards (meters). But this can give us a general idea as to where you are calling from.
dasheekeejones1 karma2013-01-15 19:15:12 UTC
Recently called 911 for my dad. Thought he was going into cardiac arrest (agonal breathing, the works; known CHF and a-fib). Anyway, I paniced a little bit and started to ramble about if he comes to he probably won't want the ambulance to come but still, COME. The @#$# dispactcher started yelling at me and screamed "Ma'am we are not in the kidnapping business." I thought that was the most unprofessional response I've heard from someone dealing with emergencies. Thoughts?
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-16 01:00:14 UTC
Call the center, have the day and time that happened, and report it. I would never say anything of the like to someone in your situation, that's extremely unprofessional. Im sorry that happened and I truly hope your dad is okay. But I would report it. Sometimes we raise our voices when the caller does to be on their level, which doesn't help anyone but it happens out if habit I guess, but giving the caller an attitude or being condescending is unacceptable. Report it.
IAmAMustakrakish1 karma2013-01-16 01:52:14 UTC
As an volunteer EMT I thank you for making our jobs easier by finding out their situation and location.
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-16 02:04:03 UTC
And I thank you for taking time out of your days to help them.
datbanter1 karma2013-01-14 19:01:59 UTC
What made you decide to take this job?
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-15 23:32:20 UTC
After graduation I was looking for a job and saw this posing on the city's site. I love helping people and thought this was a good opportunity to do just that. Of course after getting into it I see that dispatch actually needs help too. We're short-staffed, work long hours, get pretty low pay, experience consistent budget cuts and receive almost no holiday time for a day off. We are the people others never think about until they are in danger or panic. Without us, I think a lot of people could die or never get the help they need; I got I to this to help people, that's what ill continue to do.
WingedDefeat1 karma2013-01-14 16:07:07 UTC
I just recently started going through fire academy. When I become a full firefighter, what can I do to make your job easier, or what mistakes should I avoid, to ensure that everything goes more smoothly?
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-15 22:34:01 UTC
Thank you. Both for what you are doing and for caring enough to ask this question. In our city, the FD needs "times" turned over to them (not sure why, record-keeping or what have you) and sometimes the get pissy with us if they are messed up or if a certain unit failed to mark on with us. So mostly just keep radio traffic down to a minimum, make sure you are acknowledged when marking enroute or on scene and just keep in mind that we are normally extremely busy, a lot goes into our job beyond answering fire radio. So long as you do that, you'll be fine with us.
DABEAST48241 karma2013-01-14 15:57:33 UTC
What do you do when someone prank calls you?
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-15 22:27:16 UTC
Can't really do much of anything in terms of telling em off, but we treat every call at face-value. A kid calls from a cellphone with no service, thinking we can't tell where they are, and they pretend they are choking. We send someone there. Most of the time they end up getting whoopings from their parents for sending the police to their door.
beachhouse211 karma2013-01-14 16:09:27 UTC
I've called 9-1-1 a pretty good number of times in my life. For instance, the other weekend, I was out late and there was a driver that was obviously drunk, couldn't stay in their lines and driving erratically. I called 9-1-1 and reported it, do you actually appreciate those calls? Is anything done about it? Or am I just wasting everyone's time?
FlashinMyN00bies2 karma2013-01-15 22:38:37 UTC
I appreciate every well-intended call. Drunk drivers can be deadly, so I don't take those calls with a grain if salt. Typically in our city we get the direction of travel and vehicle description (license plates can be extremely helpful! We can run them, see their address and try to get a good idea of where they may be headed) then send an officer to that general area to look for the suspect vehicle. Honestly and sadly, most of the time our speeding and DUI calls go unfounded. But that shouldn't deter you from calling it in; say the one red mustang driven obviously by a drunk driver, you choose not to call in, then see in the news that vehicle got in an accident and killed the other driver; anything can happen, you are helping to prevent it.
Cinual1 karma2013-01-14 17:06:25 UTC
With all the work and skills you have to stay on top of, I sure hope they are paying you more than the police officers.
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-15 23:00:23 UTC
Nope. We get paid slightly less then the entry-level (just out of the academy) beat officers.
jokabe1 karma2013-01-14 21:07:15 UTC
I'm a 9-1-1 student in Canada. What would be some advice or something you would tell a person going into this field that you wish you knew going in?
FlashinMyN00bies1 karma2013-01-15 23:52:37 UTC
Don't everything you can, know you did everything you could and let go. Mistakes can and will happen. I've had two calls where a loved one was going into cardiac arrest who did not make it by the time emergency crew get there. I did everything I could, tried to get the patient on the floor, tried to give CPR instructions. In one case I counted the compressions out loud for the caller and reassured him the whole way that he was doing a good job. It will break you down, just don't let it get the best of you. If something like that happens, go out and get some air. Do something on your days off to unwind.
There isn't a day I don't think about the people I lost on the phone. But I don't hesitate when they come in. You have to love helping people, that's what keeps me going. There are a few too that did make it to the hospital in stable condition, but it isn't those that stick with you the most. Just do what you ca as best you can and know that was all you could do.
[deleted]-3 karma2013-01-14 13:11:25 UTC
FlashinMyN00bies3 karma2013-01-14 13:26:13 UTC
I don't know if you phrased your question correctly, but if so: I don't dispatch planes, I dispatch PD, FD and EMS, the crews that tried to help the victims of that tragedy.
If you were referring to calling myself a 9-1-1 dispatcher. Ha. Because there is no clear written difference between how I wrote 9-1-1 and the day you are referring to, 9/11.
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