April 14-20 is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. Introduced in Congress by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International in 1991, this week is dedicated annually to public safety professionals who answer 9-1-1 calls, dispatch emergency professionals and equipment, and render life-saving assistance to the citizens everywhere.
Everyday, millions of people depend on the skill, expertise and commitment of the men and women who work as public safety telecommunicators.
The Poudre Emergency Communications Center (PECC), housed at Fort Collins Police Services, is a 24-hour, 365-day-a-year operation, and is the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) responsible for answering 9-1-1 calls that originate from within the Poudre Fire Authority (PFA) and Wellington fire districts. PECC is also responsible for a police, fire and medical dispatch response area that covers over 2,000 square miles with a population of over 150,000. PECC personnel monitor various police, fire and EMS radio channels as well as having access to state radio channels and interoperability radio channels (for radio communication with other public safety entities).
PECC dispatches calls for service for Fort Collins Police Services (FCPS), Poudre Fire Authority (PFA), and Poudre Valley Health Ambulance Service (PVH). Additionally, PECC dispatches for the Wellington/Waverly Volunteer Fire Department and the Platte River Fire Department.
Dispatchers at PECC receive a variety of calls, ranging from cold crimes to in-progress calls to medical and fire related calls. Each Dispatcher is trained in providing Emergency Medical Dispatching (EMD). On many occasions Dispatchers have had to provide CPR instructions, provide child birth instructions and assist a callers with other medical related needs. The Dispatchers at PECC are highly trained, all having completed a nearly 8 month program in order to work at PECC.
This week is a National celebration of the work and dedication of all Dispatchers, a celebration PECC is proud to be a part of.
For additional information about PECC, contact Carol Workman, Communications Manager at 970-221-6333.
Things You Should Know About 9-1-1
When should I call 9-1-1?
9-1-1 should be used to report an emergency. An emergency is when police, fire or ambulance assistance is needed immediately to save someone’s life or property. Examples of emergencies could include a car accident with injuries, a crime in progress, calls where someone’s life is at risk, a fire, or a medical situation.
When not to call 9-1-1
Do not call 9-1-1 if you are seeking information or want to report such things as power outages or malfunctioning railroad signals, to report an incident that occurred hours before, or as a prank.
What happens when you call 9-1-1?
When the 9-1-1 dispatcher answers the phone, information is displayed on his/her phone system similar to caller ID. If you have a standard phone the display will show the name, address, and phone number you are calling from.
If you are calling from a cell phone, the display will only show your phone number, the name of your cell carrier, and the position of the cell tower your phone is using. It does not display your name, nor does it show the address where you are located. So it is extremely important, when calling from a cell phone, that you know where you are so you can tell the 9-1-1 Center. This includes the new VoIP phones you may carry. Did you know that the address associated with your computer internet provider is the one that appears on the 9-1-1 display in the center? So it’s always important that an accurate location be given.
What if the caller doesn’t speak English?
Each 9-1-1 Center in Larimer County has the ability to connect non-English speaking callers with an interpreter. Dispatch Centers also have the ability to connect your call with an interpreter when the non-emergency number is dialed instead of 9-1-1.
What if I’m deaf?
If you are speech or hearing impaired, each center has the capability to communicate with you via the TDD (telephone device for the deaf). The display on the 9-1-1 phone system shows the words you are typing. The dispatcher is then able to respond to your inquiries or ask additional questions.
Why so many questions?
The people who answer 9-1-1 calls are trained professionals and will ask key questions for the specific situation you are calling about.
The first few questions are always the same.
“What’s the address of the emergency?”
“What is the phone number you are calling from?”
“What is the problem, tell me exactly what happened.”
This determines what type of assistance is needed: law enforcement, fire, or medical. · If the police are needed, you will be asked a specific line of questions for police incidents. · If you need an ambulance, the questions help determine how the paramedics and firefighters respond to your emergency. · If you are reporting a fire, there will be fewer questions.
It is important for you to answer all the questions to the best of your ability, even if you don’t understand why they are being asked. If you don’t know the answer, simply say so.
What if I dialed 9-1-1 by mistake?
This is a common occurrence when people put their cell phones in a purse or pocket or when children play with a phone. If you accidentally dial 9-1-1, please stay on the line and tell the dispatcher what happened. Otherwise the dispatcher will spend time calling you back to make certain there is no emergency.
What is “Reverse 9-1-1”?
Under certain circumstances, a communications center may need to notify you about an emergency in your area. This could be anything from trying to locate a missing child to a SWAT team trying to resolve a hostage situation. When this occurs, the involved agency will develop an urgent message to be sent to a specific group of homes/businesses near the incident. It is important to listen to the instructions and follow them! Do not call 9-1-1 to ask questions! You will receive another notification when the situation is resolved. The notification can also be sent out in TDD format for those who are hearing impaired.
Will all my neighbors receive Reverse 9-1-1 notification?
Probably not! Reverse 9-1-1 is an automated call which means a computer dials the phone number and sends out the message. There are a number of conditions that would prevent someone from receiving this announcement and include: · Having a cell phone instead of a standard phone. Cell phones are not in the database as they are not assigned to a specific address. · VoIP phones (internet telephones) are not in the database either. · Features such as call blocking will prevent you from receiving these messages. · Automated voicemail could prevent the notification from being received, or at best allow only a partial message.