Proof Here:

I am a 911 Call Taker and Police Dispatcher of 2 years. Please keep questions limited to Law Enforcement as we separate Law Enforcement and Rescue, therefore I do not know the Fire Department side of things.

No questions are off limits! Please keep it respectful.

What to take away from this post While this is something fun I wanted to do, education is important. We do not spend enough on educating the public of how to use or talk to here's some helpful tips.

  • Give me your address. If you are in a situation to where you can not speak a lot and can only say your address...make your one sentence the address. When you give me an address and no context, I'm betting theres a reason you gave me an address...the police are coming.

  • If you can not speak, press a button on the phone. Acknowledge that you can hear us. The pizza thing is not helpful. There is no book of 911 Pizzas where we know mushrooms = this or that. The 911 operator should be capable enough to establish a system with you through phone button presses or be able to pick up you are in danger with your strange responses.

  • Did I already say give me your address?

  • Do not yell at us. We are asking you a million questions. Every question has a reason it is being asked. Just answer them.

  • If you accidentally dial 911, stay on the phone. Simply explain it was accidental. It saves us time and resources.

Comments: 120 • Responses: 40  • Date: 

PerfectStrangerz27 karma

Are all those 911 dispatch scenes in movies and TV total garbage?

SenorCappuccino57 karma

God, yes.

While it is a government job, we're not rocking and rolling with 12 computer monitors where we can instantly get your location. It's not that simple, and I have 3 screens taking 911 calls and 4 screens working as a dispatcher.

If there is one thing I want people to take away from this, it's that WE NEED YOUR ADDRESS. Technology is advancing and we're getting better with being able to see where you are, but it's not 100% all the time.

femalemadman13 karma

I dont understand why uber knows my address within seconds, even on 3g, but the service that needs to know where i am immediately in order to save my life does not.

SenorCappuccino21 karma

Uber is a company. We're the government lol. Much more red tape to cut through when trying to make additions to our technology.

At least that's my guess on it lol

philgross1 karma

I see this article from 2018: . Does this just not work at your end? Or is this the 90% which is not 100%.

SenorCappuccino2 karma

RapidSOS is the program we use, so yes we have it!

That program has gotten numerous people the help they need just from my calls alone. It works probably 95% of the time. Very reliable in my opinion

heythatsmybacon1 karma

Excellent advice on the address. Phase 2 geodetic data is getting better and i3 is amazing technology but it's amazing how many PSAPs either don't have (or forgo) the technology.

SenorCappuccino2 karma

The technology for gathering exact addresses needs to be mandated and implemented immediately. I can not begin to tell you how many times our PH2 has been far off and our program saved someones life because I could find where they were.

heythatsmybacon1 karma

Yeah the "confidence" factor in wireless location is kind of scary. I think the acceptable range is something like within 100 meters and when seconds count that is just too far. I'm amazed how far things have come in the last several years but still have quite a ways to go.

I'm on the opposite side of the fence from you. I work for a 911 service provider so we are the ones doing our best to deliver ANI/ ALI, geolocation info, dynamic agency info etc.

SenorCappuccino1 karma

Not sure if this is your area of expertise, but i'd like some more information on the 911 only numbers we get and why we don't get location information on those! Welcome to your AMA. lol

[deleted]0 karma


penkster8 karma

I think you misread their response.

When working taking 911 calls, they have 3 screens.

When working as a dispatcher, they have 4.

SenorCappuccino5 karma


SenorCappuccino1 karma

Of course it's heavily dependent on where you work. It's their preference.

theo7882518 karma

What is the number 1 thing you wish all callers knew/did when calling 911?

SenorCappuccino44 karma

My job is to help you. I'm trying to help you. Please, answer my questions. There is a reason i'm asking's most certainly not for my health.

velcrorex14 karma

What qualities make a good 911 dispatcher?

SenorCappuccino39 karma

Alot of people use the terms 911 Dispatcher as a blanket term. So i'll break it in half.

911 Call Taker: Assertiveness, Kindness, Critical Thinking, works well under stress, enjoys fast paced environment, technologically inclined.

911 Dispatcher: Assertiveness, Critical Think, multitasking, fast paced, able to handle stress.

Multitasking is the biggest thing for dispatching. We do not click a button to start talking, we have a foot pedal that is like our push to talk button. On large calls, I can very easily be listening to the officers and documenting everything going on with my headset in one ear, holding a phone up to my other ear with my shoulder letting the fire department know we need them, typing, reading incoming information that is being live updated on my screen from the 911 call taker, and ensuring i'm actually comprehending what the officers are saying so I do not miss any important information I need to type in the call, switching radio channels to let our Aviation unit know we need the helicopter to get up for this, letting our K9 team know we need to get our dogs out for a suspect track and asking the 911 call taker the questions that the officers are asking me...all at the same time.

skiingredneck2 karma

So you do a split fire/police dispatch.

Who gets EMS?

SenorCappuccino1 karma

Yes. We have a police portion then fire/ems combined.

GoblinMonk13 karma

How often does triage come into play? That is to say there are two problems, but they can only address one of them.

(Or 50 problems with only 25 units available)

How are those decisions mad??

SenorCappuccino27 karma

Every day, every minute, every second.

We have "priorities" that our calls are sent up as. 911 Call go to the call taker > Call taker documents the information and sends it to a dispatcher > Dispatcher sends it to the officers.

The priorities are Code 1, Code 2 and Code 3. In a very simply way here is the breakdown. Code 1- Very very basic non-emergency that is most likely just paperwork. Code 2- Average call that can't be simply put as "not important" but not that important. Code 3- Very important. Go now, use your lights and sirens.

When we receive a 911 call, we have about 50 different "call types". We take your call and go "oh you're in an argument, this is a verbal argument" and make the call type a Verbal or Oh you're complaining about your neighbor's music, this is a disturbance. Think of it as putting the call into a category and labeling it. This way the dispatcher has a brief example of whats going on. Once they have the call, they can open it up where we put the information.

So basically to answer your questions, we go to Code 3's first, then code 2s then code 1s. lol.

If you need more clarification, let me know!

OkieFinokie3 karma

I’d like to learn more about call types and which code they are. Are any call types surprising that they’re not as high or much higher than we may think? What are some thing that immediately bump a call up to a code 3 or down to a code 1. For example, I’ve heard that anything heart related is automatically code 3.

SenorCappuccino3 karma

I'm police only. So i'll answer your question starting there lol.

Code 3 calls are essentially your life and death emergencies or large scale incidents such as an armed robbery, carjacking, grand theft, etc. In terms of medical, the fire department will ask you if the patient is awake and breathing. If your answer to either of those 2 are no, we are responding too with lights and sirens. With the exception of seizures only because you will not be awake after a seizure but do not require CPR.

That's about all i'll say on the priorities. Don't want to open myself up to too much scrutiny if I say certain incidents are less important but someone thinks differently. Hope thats okay!

Mollykins0811 karma

Do you ever get calls from little kids who just learned about 911 or kids calling for what they feel are emergencies but aren’t really? Any adorable stories to share?

SenorCappuccino25 karma

Kids love to call. It's annoying as it takes up our resources; however, we do our best to educate them and say this is for emergencies. At least they've proven they know the number lol. So it's not really a bad thing.

If a kid calls with an emergency that they think is one but really isn't i'll calm them down and ask to speak to the adult there. If there is no adult, that's where the problem comes because while they may just be saying they're hungry or can't reach the milk...they're at the age to be not able to care for themselves and home alone.

One time, we had a little girl call us about 9 times just to say hi then hang up. We eventually had to send an officer out so he can tell her mom to take away the phone lol.

IshiiTib7 karma

Do emergency calls get saved for perpetuity or are they erased after a certain amount of time?

SenorCappuccino9 karma

This is mostly dependent on where you are. We keep our audio and text documents for 3 years.

IshiiTib5 karma

Thank you. What if a call was used as evidence in a criminal trial—who would still have it on file?

SenorCappuccino3 karma

I would try reaching out to your police department and ask for their records department.

Cmss2205 karma

Hello there! In general would you say this is a disturbing job or not too bad? Do you have a script you need to follow for the most part?

SenorCappuccino22 karma


Disturbing would probably be the wrong word...maybe, "fluid" is what i'd choose.

Have I heard things that I did not think was possible? Yes. Have I been exposed to an amount of violence that I did not think was present in our community? Yes. Have I been able to help an amount of people that i'd never think i'd be able to say that i've helped thousands of people? Also yes.

This job has the power to break you and traumatize you. Its very dependent on the person. I am personally not someone who is easily affected and I'd consider myself kind of desensitized so I think i'm perfect for this line of work lol. With that being said, My desensitization does not play a role in trying to get people the help they need and empathizing with them.

We do not have a script. We have certain questions that should be asked, but not a script. The Fire Department follows a script, but Law Enforcement is too situational for that.

Educational-Job18665 karma

Do you get alot of prank calls and people swatting?

SenorCappuccino8 karma

Not necessarily.

I'd say our swatting is once a month or two. Prank calls probably a few times a month but it's usually kids just calling you a poopy face and hanging up.

DeadLink4046 karma

Once a month is a lot, wtf. Successful swattings are much rarer so how do you know if it's bull?

SenorCappuccino2 karma

The answer to this I won't touch on too much.

Essentially we have notes on addresses so we're going to know if this has happened before. Also, we ask you tons of questions and can pretty easily tell when something isn't adding up.

kristoferen4 karma

How much 911 and/or law enforcement training did you take?

SenorCappuccino14 karma

At my agency, we have a 3 months Classroom setting training and 6 months of on the job training with a trainer sitting with you. When you get promoted to dispatch, you have a 2 week classroom setting and 7 months of on the job training with a trainer sitting with you.

We are required to do somewhere around 160 hours of training per year and keep our state certification up to date.

kristoferen3 karma

That's great! Thanks for explaining and thanks for what you do

SenorCappuccino1 karma

Thank you!

lasttosseroni4 karma

Would it make sense to call 911 if you witnessed (or were subject to) criminal behavior by the police? How much independence does your office have from the local PD, and do you have discretion to go to or above local chiefs to state or federal agencies?

SenorCappuccino10 karma

Unfortunately my knowledge does not reach into your question that far.

What I can say is I highly encourage you to speak up if you experience unjust actions from law enforcement. We have a division at my agency specifically dedicated to investigating complaints on our officers...and they get stuff done.

ciscoubr893 karma

Are there calls you take/dispatch for where you find yourself wanting to follow up and learn what happened? Or do you just try to dismiss them and not take work home with you?

I imagine this varies by agency - but what protocols are in place when you know the caller? Are you required to hand off that call to someone else or a supervisor?

SenorCappuccino3 karma

I am very curious by nature so I usually read the reports or call notes. I'm personally not very affected by calls and just like to know the information.

There are no protocols for that situation. In all honesty, names are not important...It's one of the last questions I ask you. An officer can't approach you and recognize you by name, so we get the address, nature of the call, description of subjects involved then your name. By the time I know it's someone I know, the call is over with.

MorangeMan3 karma

You must have a lot of "thank God they were right around the corner" moments, but what's the quickest response turn around you have had, and what was the closest shave you encountered as well?

Also I know it's probably done and dusted when you hand it off, but do you ever get to hear updates on the outcomes of situations or do you try to avoid that due to the stress that it could entail?

SenorCappuccino11 karma

To answer the first question, it's quite difficult. I do not remember much to be honest when it comes to high stress calls. I get extreme tunnel vision and empty brain except for listening to what my officers are saying and making sure they're taken care. Your brain is a funny thing. I know i'm not a cop, i'm not staring into the eyes of a murderer or whatever it may be, but I'm the one in control of big events. I get them what they need and fast. I know that without me, there may be dangerous situations they can get in and they could die. When you have that weight on you, you refocus to that and only that and it's a're really in the moment.

I worked a large incident just a few days ago. It's an ongoing investigation and since i'm sure someone here will try to doxx me, i'm going to leave details out. Essentially a guy just shot someone in a neighborhood and drove off. One officer spotted the vehicle while responding out to the injured victim. Since we had more officer's going to help the victim, He flipped around and followed the guy who just shot someone. When he called it out on the radio, I jumped up from leaning back in my chair and got ready to start typing what's going on. They got into a full fledged pursuit that ended in a crash. The bottom line is, this man just attempted to kill someone and he's definitely got a gun on him officers are very much in danger. I worked the call and someone came over asking me a piece of information. I had no idea. In fact, I did not remember even how we managed to find our suspect when just 7 minutes ago, my officer stated he saw the vehicle leaving the area and he's behind it. It's all a blur. I had to go back and read my notes in the call to jog my memory.

For calls that spark my interest, I definitely save the call numbers and come back to it later when the officer's write the report. I've got a more dying urge to be in the know and be nosy than I do of getting bet i'm going to read what happened lol. The thing about this job is that it is what you make it. If you let it eat you up, it'll kill you or you'll kill's that simple. This isn't me saying that 911 dispatchers that have committed suicide are weak or were not capable of doing the job, because some things about this job will stick with you forever; and it's different for everyone. I'm a pretty "dead inside" person so a lot of these calls don't affect me, but I got into this job and go to work everyday with the mindset of "I did what I could". Shit happens, and that's the bitter truth, but knowing you were there for someone and did everything you could, is a good feeling.

Mentalcouscous2 karma

I got into this job and go to work everyday with the mindset of "I did what I could". Shit happens, and that's the bitter truth, but knowing you were there for someone and did everything you could, is a good feeling.

This is the right attitude. As someone who works in Healthcare and sometimes deals with difficult decisions, as long as I know I did my best with the information and resources I had at the time, the outcome doesn't matter so much. Sure, a happy ending is always desired but that is not life and to pine for otherwise is foolish. Do your best, forget the rest.

SenorCappuccino4 karma


That attitude is what keeps people alive in our lines of work. Thanks for what you do!

JimmyTheOtherCat3 karma

I'm about to start a job as a dispatcher. Any advice?

SenorCappuccino6 karma

Not sure where you are in the hiring process, I recommend checking out this other post I did a while ago!

GoblinMonk2 karma

What size community do you support?

SenorCappuccino6 karma

I'm sure if you wanted to Doxx me hard enough, it'd be fairly simple. Without giving too much information away, My agency supports about 1.3-1.5 million people. We take about 1.1 million 911 calls a year and roughly double the amount of non-emergency calls.

GoblinMonk8 karma

I was trying really hard not to sound like doxxing.

I was trying to establish if you worked for a community under 100k 200K 500k more than a million,more than. 3....

The public safety efforts in those sizes of communities would differ.

SenorCappuccino6 karma

No worries, you're good!

SnooCheesecakes51502 karma

Everyone makes mistakes at their job. What mistakes can be made as an operator and what are the potential consequences?

SenorCappuccino23 karma

The mistakes that can be made are very minimal. Typos and such are fine of course, but not many people know we are criminally liable for our negligence. Meaning if you tell me someone is dying but I don't like the way you're talking to me and I hang up and they end up dying, I am legally responsible for their death and will go to prison.

Jennabear822 karma

I've heard some bad things about operators who just lose their sanity and start being rude to people and quitting in the middle of calls. How does your agency work to curb potential mental health issues? Is there a training program in place to keep an eye out for when an operator needs a break?

SenorCappuccino19 karma

One thing I appreciate working for such a large agency, is there are tons of resources for us. We have an employee assistance hotline that we can call for free and they will help refer us to where we need to go. From everything from finances, marital problems, mental health issues, car problems...literally everything and it's anonymous.

We also have a nutritionist on-site that is open to us as they're trying to promote a healthy body happy life perspective on us.

After large incidents that are traumatic, we are mandated to a debriefing where everyone involved in the call will meet together with a therapist and our Critical Incident Stress Management Team so we can let it out and have someone who understands listen to us.

Squirrelista1 karma

What call sticks with you most?

SenorCappuccino5 karma

Copy and pasted from my response to someone's /r/askreddit.

It was a very slow night. The kind of night here people are just mindlessly sitting there waiting for a call. My agency separates dispatchers and call takers so if you’re a 911 call taker, you’re literally only taking calls. This lady calls the non-emergency number. If you call the non-emergency number, we do not get the location information as we would on a 911 (no it’s not like the movies, I can not always find you since it usually give me a general area of where you are).

She calls and says she wants someone to talk to. She seems sad, possibly a little drunk, but not incoherent. I ask her what’s going on as asking to talk to someone is usually a dead giveaway there may be some suicidal ideations. She tells me she’s feeling sad but doesn’t want to do anything. Once again, we’re slow so I decided to entertain her. I let her talk to me about her life, her kids, her exhusband, her finances; just whatever she wanted to talk about. It became more clear that she was depressed. I kept offering to have an officer to come out to chat in person so we can evaluate her. She didn’t want to give her address. This lady knew what she was doing and would not tell me she’s going to hurt herself or anything to make this a solid suicide call to get officers out there fast. It was frustrating.

After talking for 35 minutes, I make up some sort of white lie just to get her address. I finally have it. By now we have been talking for 50 minutes. I am getting quite frustrated that this woman won’t just tell me she wants to kill herself so I can get her the fast help. I actually felt bad having to lie to get her address. Eventually I tell her that I know she doesn’t want to meet with an officer, but I want someone to go check on her and give her some resources.

She replies with “honestly, I don’t want to waste the officer’s time. You talking to me was the best thing I’ve had in a long time. Thank you so much. I’m going to go warm up some macaroni that’s in my fridge, cuddle with cats and head to bed. Thank you (my name). Have a good night” and then hung up.

When I tell you I had a huge amount of conflicting thoughts, I did. I was angry she wouldn’t tell me she was going to kill herself. I was sad her life has been rough. I felt I was breaking our trust by sending an officer since she didn’t want one. I sat there and thought for a few minutes and I sent up a call for them just to go check on her. The officer’s get there with no answer to their knock on the door. They peek in the bedroom window and she’s sound asleep cuddling with her cat in bed.

God, I hope that woman is doing better. I’ve taken much more stressful, difficult, traumatizing calls. I’ve hear people die mid sentence with me, people screaming as their child lay lifeless, sobbing while their significant other is just dead in the car from an accident.

This call is the one that stuck with me and I have no clue why.

Victory_Over_Himself1 karma

If i get wounded at a remote location like the side of a road and dont know exactly where i am, what is my best bet to quickly get help? What kind of things in my surroundings should i look for?(I have an odd fear of like bleeding out on the side of the road and not being able to get an ambulance in time)

SenorCappuccino1 karma

If you can give me a super rough estimate of your location and a landmark, google maps becomes our best friend. Anything will help. It could be anything from the 7/11 across from the chick fil a to the speed limit sign.

WarLawck1 karma

Are you required to do any medical training to help triage in emergency situations? For example, have you had to explain how to do chest compressions, or put pressure on a wound, or tell someone to give aspirin to someone having a heartattack.

SenorCappuccino1 karma

Nope. When you tell me you have a medical emergency, I transfer you to the fire department.

tosstoss1981 karma

Thank god! I have been waiting for this

Sometimes I see stories about a kid dialing 911 and hanging up and the police still do a check up. Then i see a story where the poor person who is panicking has to give their name, age address blah blah.

I want to know. If I'm in an emergency situation and I don't know the address and I call 911 with my cell phone, will they know where I am? This is my fear when walking alone at night as a woman. I rarely know the address of where I am.

Also, when the dispatcher is asking all these questions, are they simultaneously sending someone my way or are they waiting for me to be done giving my name and situation to send someone?

Like, could I dial 911 and tell them I need an ambulance and then hangup (let's say I'm trying to save someone from drowning or whatever) Is there a reason we have to stay on the phone?

SenorCappuccino3 karma

/u/TheZombiePlague got about 90% of my answer. Of course things are different wherever you go.

Essentially for us, if you're just making a call for something that is not life or death I am going to ask you the questions, hang up and someone will come out to you when time allows. If your life is immediately in danger, they are coming while we talk.

Ron_A_Hucklebee1 karma

Did you ever inherit a really lot of money from someone that you didn't even know, but they died and now you are really rich?

SenorCappuccino2 karma

Yes. And because of my large amount of money I have inherited, I still choose to work 12 hour shifts. /s

No, no I haven't. lol

Ct-5736-Bladez1 karma

Have you ever played the “911 operator” video game? If so what were your thoughts

SenorCappuccino1 karma

I have not but I do play loads of PC games so i'll give it a go!

Dispatcher121 karma

Are you using the IAED EPD protocols and if so, do you like them? My agency has always used EMD but I just certified in EPD and EFD because the state has mandated use of all three. Just wondering if you find EPD helpful in real time.

SenorCappuccino3 karma

Considering I don't know what that is, I'd say no lol.

Is that the scripting? If so, god I would hate it. Extremely helpful for the medical side, LEO just seems to be too situational for it.

Educational-Job18661 karma

And also my number is 914 I accidentally called 911 twice that's why I ask?

SenorCappuccino2 karma

It happens a lot more than you'd think. Stay on the phone, tell us it was accidental. If you don't, I have to call you back and if you don't answer and I got your address, expect a knock on your door to check on you.

You won't get in trouble, just to verify you're okay.

Page300and9041 karma

I can't believe I missed this.

I wanted to ask what do I do if I'm deaf. My city is is an orphaned .. psap?

I don't have a tty and I do not have voice relay.

If I call 911 and say I'm deaf here's my address, is that enough? I have just enough hearing to hear when someone is talking but not being able to understand what that person saying.

SenorCappuccino2 karma

You calling 911 and stating your address, you are deaf and what your emergency is should be good. Please dont rush through the information since we can not ask you to repeat. It probably wouldn't hurt to repeat the information anyways.

TTY is becoming more and more outdated; however, it is still mandated that we have the capabilities to function with one. We also re-train on it every 6 months.

Please please please get a voice relay. I can most certainly get you help but it's important I ask you clarifying questions to get you the RIGHT help the first time around.

okay_squirrel-1 karma

Not sure if you can answer but if I called for a medical or fire situation and requested no law enforcement, would that request be honored?

SenorCappuccino13 karma

Where I work, we are Law Enforcement only but we are the primary answering when you call 911, you are going to get LEO. We transfer you to the fire department when we establish you need medical. We wait until you confirm the patient is awake and breathing (to ensure the police do not need to go since we'll need to do CPR and it's a race against time so of course we're going to go) and then we hang up.

If I think you're being sketchy, there is nothing stopping me from staying on the phone and listening. This job is all about decision making. I have the power to do what I want. If I want to send an officer out because something doesn't seem right, I can and I will.

Example: Guy hysterical crying saying his wife fell down the stairs and he can't stop the bleeding. I immediately transfer the call to the fire department so they can get an ambulance. In the process of transferring, I hear him whispering "i'm sorry". I send the call to my officers. Sure enough, they get there and she's covered in old bruises and he's got marking on him consistent with a physical fight and she admits he pushed her down the stairs. I'd like to think that me being extra cautious and using my good decision making, I saved this woman from an abusive relationship.

Whether or not she did, doesn't matter. I did what I could and I hope she got out of that.

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SenorCappuccino8 karma

This question is quite above my pay grade. I do not have direct contact with the individuals who serves warrants and the SWAT team. A lot of what they do is above us, and for good reason as they do not want their goals to be compromised.

Now what are their goals? Their goals are certainly not to kill people. Our agency has plenty of policies in place to protect our citizens. There are also plenty of well known ramifications if our officers were to unjustifiably murder someone...things like being charged with Murder.

It seems you have your reservations about Law Enforcement, which is understandable. I support Law Enforcement heavily and currently on the path to transition to becoming Law Enforcement. I will also admit recently law enforcement has become quite a touchy subject. I'm sure you're well aware that there are some high profile cases which involve the police blatantly murdering someone.

I do not support that. My co workers do not support that. The officers that work with them every day do not support them.

I highly encourage you to one day sign up to do a ride-alone with your local law enforcement agency to see what it is they are actually doing. We do a lot of good in the world, no matter how big or small, it's just that most of the time those things do not get brought to light.

I'd be happy to answer more questions you have, I'd just request you formulate it a little differently.