Dec 24th 2016 by Throwbocop4412 • 62 Questions • 138 Points
Hey Reddit! I'm a 911 dispatcher here to welcome your questions, provide insight, and hopefully gain a little visibility for a profession that usually only enters the public eye when we screw up!
I work in a PSAP (Public Safety Access/Answering Point) meaning that we dispatch for every agency in my county, which includes Fire, EMS, Law Enforcement, and other agencies. My center specifically handles calls and radio dispatch for the County Sheriff, local Police, 10 separate Fire Departments, the Forestry Service, EMS, the local Rescue Squad/independant first responders, State Parks, and Animal Control!
Thank you, everyone, for your support, your time, and your questions! I have to sign off for a bit, but I promise I will return and try to answer everything that's been asked!
Call us if you need us!
Do you ever accidentally slip into dispatcher mode when you're on a regular ol' personal call?
Unfortunately BLM and other forms of protest are viewed as purely "anti-cop". There is still a strong us vs them mentality here.
The Millennium Falcon was originally designed in a lizzard shape. We learned that another film had created a similar design, so it was immediately modified into its final form.
Ha.. yeah, I do. Especially if I have to spell something over the phone, the phonetic alphabet comes right out
It does happen, but they usually use the Military version because that's what ends up in movies and stuff, so sometimes it throws us off for a second
Assuming you know a good amount of police... What's the ratio of honest and fair, to cooked and unfair?
I have one more question - would you be open to attending the largest gathering of sci-fi model builders, at Wonderfest in Louisville Kentucky, in early June? It will be a celebration of everything, but also a specific showcase of the Star Wars 40th anniversary.
I think I speak for all the fellas when I say we would love to have you attend and show you what we have made, inspired by your designs!
It's a melting pot. A better question is how many cops lack common sense and want to be hailed as heroes VS cops who want to serve the public. THAT'S where it gets messy. No doubt, this job is incredibly dangerous, but I've had it with this Call-of-Duty themed ThinBlueLine™ Nonsense from cops who WANT to feel like they're in a war zone. Those are the "cooked and unfair" cops who want to drop 3k on a patrol rifle but not a dime towards educational courses on de-escalation or effective communication.
We call it the "Law Enforcement Phonetic Alphabet"
Adam, Boy, Charles, David, Edward, Frank, George, Henry...
instead of the Military version or the Greek Alphabet
Are you required to know the NATO alphabet anyway? I know I would start using it the second you asked me to clarify something, and now I'm worried I'll make it worse.
All of it. No bullshit. Anyone who tells you they didn't become a cop for the steady pay or adrenaline rush is lying. But more important to me is the impact I can make. The fact that I have the power to change lives or situations for the better(when possible). I think we should all push to change the current mentality, but that train hasn't even left the depot. If I said HALF the shit I've said in these comments to my fellow officers, I'd be on someone's shit-list, marked for dismissal on some bullshit policy violation that they can catch in the next few months.
I am not, thankfully it's pretty intuitive, so don't worry :)
If I'm being pulled over by a civilian vehicle with a siren light on the roof like a detectives car in tv shows should I call 911 before pulling over? I'd be concerned that it was someone trying to rob me with a $10 light off eBay. What should one do in this situation to confirm the "officer" is legit?
It's a must, unfortunately. I have the option to not immediately take an individual into custody upon finding out that they have misdemeanor/traffic warrants. I hate putting someone in cuffs for an unpaid ticket, but in a lot of situations I end up having to for liability purposes.
I knew that the opening scenes had to be exceptionally successful, but little did I foresee the outcome.
If you feel the other car may not be an actual cop, absolutely please call in. All our units advise us immediately that they are doing a traffic stop, for everyone's safety.
My five-year-old brother called 911 once because he saw a stray cat and he thought it looked hungry (he was sobbing on the phone hahaha). An officer came out and had a chat with him about when we call 911 about a real emergency and when we can just try to help stray kitties. It was sweet.
Anyway, what's your favorite (not sad!) little kid calling 911 story?
If I pull you over and your license is suspended, I'm more than likely gonna cut you a break as long as you're trying to better yourself. No insurance? I'll do the same. Have a warrant for an unpaid ticket? Could've got lost in the mail. Or maybe you knew about it and simply don't have the funds. Now, if your license is suspended, you don't have insurance, you have a warrant for a traffic ticket you didn't pay, and I pulled you over because you were doing 30 miles an hour over the speed limit, then you're going to jail, your car is getting towed and I'm giving you more tickets. You're irresponsible, and if I let you go with a warning and you end up Killing or injuring somebody with your reckless driving, they're gonna want to know why the hell Officer Throwbocop4412 let you drive off. There goes my job and a nice fat lawsuit for my agency.
Usually the only cute ones we get are toddlers going "goo goo gaa" into the phone that they mashed buttons on, then their mother/parent saying "Hey, don't call them!" and hanging up
How hard is it to understand people in a real state of panic? Do you have a standard procedure?
Please refrain from answering questions on this AMA. I appreciate the help and I'm sure you're a cop, but I'm here on a mission. I was late to the party but Im here now.
Looking back on it, the ones that created the most important scenes won out. May both of you create favorites that light up your audiences.
So statistically, only a small percentage of callers are found to be "too distraught" for us to get any info, meaning we should almost never be unable to get anything unless someone just hangs up/loses connection.
With that said, sometimes it is really hard! With background noise and crappy cell reception it's hard enough.. but add in panic and we have to ask people to repeat things all the time, unfortunately. We do have a protocol we have to follow to maintain our certifications, and it always starts with us confirming the address, phone number, and name. That way, if nothing else we know where to send units and can get info while they're on the way to reduce response time
Have y'all had to deal with drones much? And are you ready for the fresh influx of drones post-Christmas?
Hi Colin! Thank you for doing this. Were you approached by Disney to work on the new films?
No, maybe 1 in 50 calls, if that often
Hi! So, did the trench run finale actually come about because of your design?! Did you meet Carrie Fisher?
Is it difficult for you to detach emotionally once you know there's nothing more you personally (or anyone if that's the case) can do for the caller?
A lot, but if I had to specify, the drug war should end. Legalize marijuana. Decriminalize the more serious drugs and provide rehabilitation for addicts.
I did not meet Carrie. The trench was my idea... thereby the action scenes
It is easier for me then some of my peers for whatever reason. I just don't get very emotionally invested unless it's someone I know or care about. I know it sounds very heartless, but I'd argue it makes me better suited because even seasoned veterans in this job can get a horrible call and freeze up... and that's when things go really wrong
Do you guys have the new NARC cans? How are they? Edit: Have you run into any of those "Free Inhabitant" freaks? How did that go?
What do you think about the large influx of CGI use in recent films? Do you think there's some level of authenticity that can't be achieved with digital renders as opposed to physical miniature props?
CGI has come a long way. Hands on for me is my kind of fun. But I was a pioneer in CGI as well.
Thankfully not! It hasn't happened to me yet (fingers crossed) but I have gotten calls about people I am familiar with or acquaintances
I met with him to ask mostly about the role of the ship storywise. A lot to begin with and less frequently as time went on. He seldom made suggestions on design changes.
Man, that is really rough, my condolences to him and his team. We are very close here, that would be devastating
Merry Christmas officer. My question is whether you think it will ever be possible for the public to trust police in general if there isn't public accountability for each instance of abuse anywhere else in the country. What I mean to say is that I believe that there is community accountability for police so if one person seems to get away with abuse then all police look guilty and the public outrage only grows greater. do you think that's true and whether it is or not what do you think is the best way of dealing with the problem
Ooh, hello Sir, congratulations and thank you for your amazing work! I'd love to see you team up with Dr Michio Kaku - what a dream team that would be! Have you got a ticket for a commercial space flight? Who'd be your dream team to go to space with?
Is 911 the best number to call for non-emergency traffic situations?
For instance, after a windy night, when a tree branch is blocking a traffic intersection? I'm sure there is a city service for this, but if i notice while i'm driving i may not have those phone numbers handy.
Merry Christmas to you as well. I think the biggest problem here is the word abuse. Agencies aren't willing to admit "brutality" when their officers are being heavy-handed, but at the same time the public needs to understand that not every act of physical aggression committed by police is simply abuse. I think it will be possible for the public to trust police again, but we both need to come to an agreement here.
i did significant flying while lying in bed with tuberculosis as a child. No ticket yet, but Stephen Hawiking would be a REAL TRIP.
You can call State Highway Patrol or go ahead and call 911 and we can transfer you or advise them ourselves
Do you get annoyed at people calling about petty things? like dogs off the leash or personal disputes?
Whoever' so giving em to me for free. 😂
CoreFires Two is complete and will be out before the end of 2017.
We get a little annoyed, we joke about it, we make sarcastic comments after we hang up with the caller... but we still advise our units of every single one! We take your life and safety seriously, even if you're being a little silly or petty :)
How do you know exactly when I am ready to dig into my meal or take off my boots? Are there cameras in our station so you know the worst possible moments to tone us out? Do my sacrifices to the dispatch gods get seen, or should I just stop doing them all together?
In all seriousness, we love our dispatchers (most of them anyway) and really appreciate hearing 'stay safe' from time to time.
EDIT: Huh, this blew up. Thank you for the gold and kind words below. From the EMS community to you, PLEASE STAY SAFE THIS NEW YEARS! If you think about it and have the ability to do so, send a thank-you note to your local EMS station during this busy time of year. It'll mean more than you probably ever know.
More than people think. Honestly not as simple as "policeman investigates himself and finds no wrongdoing". I won't lie, more civilian oversight is definitely needed but those civilians need to be well qualified to do so.
Third party police force? That's probably referring to the various constable offices we have that fulfill contracts with communities to provide security for them.
Local/Federal? It really depends on what we're doing.
The hiring process is pretty intensive. They do an extensive background check, double check the claims you made on your application, they'll even check your application against other applications you've submitted to other police agencies to see if there were any inconsistencies.
How do you decide when you should stay on the call instead of just take the call and dispatch and then disconnect?
Always the people.
Some had individual inspirations, too long to go into detail for all of them. All were from my mind.
It's kind of a hard thing to put into words, sometimes you just get a feeling like "hey, those background noises are weird" or " this caller's voice sounds scared even though she says she's fine".
Other times, the caller themselves asks you to stay on, especially with some bad medical calls
When you see a random person in every day situation, do you call him "suspect" in your head?
Why are the TIE Fighters so different from the various rebel craft?
I wanted them each to be evil and "instantly" identified on the screen.
It may be their policy to do so, it may be that they were slow enough, it may just be that they felt it was necessary
When there's a fire/accident/crime on/near a major road do you receive several dozen calls for it? How do you handle that, as in do you tell them that there are units responding and try to free up the line as quickly as possible or do you continue to ask them for information?
Knowing someone could have a gun puts American police more on edge than in places where guns are not publicly legal. It also brings a lot of the wrong type of people to this job who simply want to walk around with a gun strapped to their hip.
Oh yes. Ohhhhh yes.
And yep, we tell them "we have received reports, units are enroute" and document the call. Unless the original caller gave very little info and the new caller says they are on scene at the accident or were involved or something and we can get more info from them
I called 911 when I spotted a butt naked man walking down the street at midnight. It was hard for me to not laugh as I called 911. The poor dispatcher seemed confused, asked me to repeat myself several times then, I swear I heard, a little chuckle. What is the funniest call you have received? (The situation ended up being pretty serious. The guy had some sort of nervous breakdown and was convinced God had told him to commit suicide by walking himself to death. He was also my neighbor who lived across the street but I didn't know it at the time.)
Depends, but I doubt there is a route to homicide that doesn't require years of being an officer. If there is one, I wouldn't take it. I wouldn't take any shortcut to any position in law enforcement where the prerequisite is patrol experience. Regardless of your background, the knowledge and experience you gain as a patrol officer is an invaluable asset for whatever you choose to do later.
- What is the weirdest non-emergency you ever answered to?
- Ever happened that someone asked for food or groceries because they were literally starving? I once read this article and wondered how frequently something like this happens
ThrowawayforLEOstuff is not me. Not affiliated with me at all.
Hopefully it would be more accurate than the cover image of National Geographic which swapped the lowest terrains with the highest. Yes I would like to cover the Mars landing.
Weirdest thing: one lady said she saw a puma with a bald head cross the road... Surprisingly, responders could not locate it.
I've never had someone actually say they were starving, but we do have social services resources for both adults and children if something like that were reported to us
Mr. Cantwell, I've never heard about Kubrick wanting a conference table discussion scene for the opening of 2001. Could you talk a little bit about why he wanted it and how and why you persuaded him to go in a different direction? Thanks for doing this AMA.
What's the craziest call you've ever gotten? What's the dumbest call you've ever gotten?
Nope. Ending the drug war would.
Not by me. I thought it more mysterious without detailed explaination.
My understanding is it ended up being some kind of prolapse situation with a middle aged woman. I have no idea what caused it, but both the caller and we in the center were very confused by it.
"...it fell out? "
" It done fell out."
Have you ever had anyone call you up to admit to a crime and summon the police?
Overt racists are few and far between. The couple of times I've come across overt racists, I didn't have to do anything. They got themselves fired through the sheer stupidity of their actions. COVERT racism however, is a huge problem.
I really enjoyed seeing the new story tellng in both.
We do get people wanting to turn themselves in for outstanding warrants. I did have a guy report that two "crackwhores" had stolen his wallet after he solicited them... genius
I appreciate the response.
Personally, I'm not sure having one of these helps in any real way. I mean, I'm not asking to get out of a murder or anything, but perhaps if I'm speeding a bit then maybe it's a warning rather than a ticket.
But, in the end, regardless of the results, I do appreciate the gesture from a guy who is a good friend of mine.
So having worked with NASA during the broadcast of the first moon landing; what exactly were you doing during that time, and what are your feelings about those people among us who say it was a staged event? (I for one know we landed on the moon, but I have met others who swear we didn't)
In the day and age of cell phones I imagine many people do not know the address of where they currently are located. With a landline it could be easily traced to an address. How do you track a cell phone to a specific address?
Doesn't mean anything to me. I'm not very lenient with friends or family of law enforcement(unless the cop is in the car with them), I tell my friends and family not to expect special treatment either.
I was sitting behind Walter Cronkite and known as the "Hal 9000 Computer". During his broadcast I was listening to NASA and feeding Walter the information he was broadcasting on live TV.
As far as skeptics, give me their names and I'll sell them the London Bridge.
It shows up as a little dot on our map and we look at the closest valid address and hope for the best
I'm required by my employer to periodically test that 911 works and that 911 can properly identify the address I'm calling from. I feel like I'm wasting your time when you could be handling a real emergency. How do you feel about test calls?
The Death Star was a sphere because objects needed to be able to fly around it and attack it from all sides. When the two plastic hemispheres arrived, I had to invent a way to use them without revealing their equitorial flaws.. Hence the trench.
Please call if you need to test the system! For landlines, we are supposed to get an accurate, automatic location, but it's technology and things do go wrong
Thanks for all your great work.
What specific shots did you work on in 2001? (A description in words or DVD or Blu-ray timings are fine.)
How much guidance did Kubrick give you, how much did he explain or describe what he wanted? Did he give you general or specific instructions? Did he look at your work in progress and say "No, try again--experiment, surprise me" or "No, I will tell you exactly what I want it to look like ..."?
I saw on a tv show this guy was getting home invaded, and he called 911 and tapped SOS in morse code into the phone to avoid making any sound
Does this happen? And if it were to happen would you be able to follow thru?
I designed the opening one minute and many of the space scenes. I worked very closely with Stanley. We met nightly to discuss different scenes and the special effects. He would give me guidance during space dailies.
and the rest of the music except the "Blue Danube"
If we get a call and nobody says anything, we are going to send law enforcement regardless of anything else. It may just be a hang up, it may not.
I personally would probably recognize the S-O-S pattern, but we aren't trained in Morse code or anything, it would just be from seeing it in movies
Hi Colin, I understand the millennium falcon design was a collaborative effort- what parts of the ship we're your concepts? I've always thought the dish was your idea but was interested if any thing else was.
Is there something someone could do to very quietly notify you they're in trouble other than just a hang up?
The turret survived the re-invention of the millennium falcon from my original lizzard design.
It would be hard to recommend something that would be reliably effective. We've had people pull the ol' "ordering a pizza" thing to disguise they were really calling 911. I once had a guy just groan into the phone who was having a stroke.
If you call, we will do our best to get help to you even if we have no information except a cell phone GPS plot
How did you land these awesome jobs? Talk about a dream come true.
Don't they talk about that in training at all? I feel like that is a pretty well known ruse that you would at least be told to ask if they are aware they are calling 911 before hanging up.
Based on the work I had previously done, many of these jobs were referred to me by others.
They talked about it a little, as far as "this might happen, don't just hang up immediately" but there's no real way to write a protocol for handling calls like that unfortunately. Like we can't have "pepperoni pizza" mean "guy with a gun", you know?
What's your favorite small scale project? Any smaller movie collaborations your particularly proud of?
First: I called 9-1-1 when I was a kid, I can't remember why. It was me being dumb and wanted to see if I could hang up right after dialing and not get caught. I got caught (obviously). I've always felt guilty about that.
Second: I called 9-1-1 only 1 other time and that was because I suspected (correctly) my mother was being physically abused by her boyfriend. This was 7 years ago. I was spurred into action when I heard her in the other room say "Stop it, you're hurting me! Let me GO!" I straight up bolted out of the house and called on the land line. To me it sounded like the dispatcher was trying to not send a unit out and asked multiple times "did you only hear it, or actually see the abuse?" Is there some kind of rule regarding suspicion of domestic abuse? Also, the next thing that happened was she said that she would forward our report to the sheriffs office, then she hung up. about 10 minutes later I got a call from the sheriff and he showed up. Was it incorrect for her to get off the line in a situation like that? Thanks for all your hard work!
My last architectural design submitted to Frank Lloyd Wright before he died. Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
First, I'm sorry that happened and I hope she is in a better situation
Second, it sounds like that dispatcher was not doing their job correctly. Could have been a lack of training, or they were just disgruntled, etc. Either way, no, we are trained to take every call seriously and at face value. You say you're being attacked, we tell the police you're being attacked, it isn't our call to decide differently.
Do you still have those two large wonderful models that Jason Debord showed in his interviews with you? It was fascinating to see them, as they seem to be spiritual cousins to the Star Wars models you designed. We see many of the same parts used (the large howitzer used on your Sandcrawler for example). Do you also have any "raw parts" left or did those all sell at auction?
And did you take any reference photos of the models that have not come to light yet? There are many parts that have been knocked off over the past 40 years (like the "skis" and "pitot tubes" on the Skyhopper) and it is always thrilling to see what is missing.
Cool. Have you personally had non-english callers?
Sorry, everything was sold at auction. I don't have any photos of any of my models, but lots of memories.
It happens a few times a month at least. I had 10 years of Spanish growing up and speak decently, but I still get the interpreter on the line
Was the design of the Imperial Star Destroyer (triangle) directly affected by the need to provide an impact in the opening scene? Thank you!
Edit: Imperial Star Destroyer since I am a dummy.
i am sorry for having to listen to that! did they take you off work and give you counseling for it?
Very strongly. That opening series of scenes had to work for the film to succeed.
They always offer counseling after major incidents, and it's an available resource any time we want it. I didn't take it after that call
Hello Mr. Cantwell! You designed so many of the iconic images of our time. But have you ever looked back at something you designed and wished, despite its popularity, that you had done it differently?
Last time I called 911 was two years ago when I found that my roommate had hanged himself. Police were at my door in under 2 minutes.
What is the step by step process that goes into a call like that? All I remember is they asked me, "Can you confirm he's dead?" At which point I started screaming and crying. Then someone was at my door.
We will send EMS and Law Enforcement and probably first responders no matter what you say in that situation, and they will come as fast as possible unless you tell us certain things (like his head is off, he is already decomposing, etc) that we call "unequivocal death" meaning there is no doubt he is deceased.
Hey! We are friends on Facebook and I saw that you would be doing an AMA. My question is this: how many revisions did the original ships go through before they came up with the end product that we all saw in the movies?
My sister was being attacked by her boyfriend and called 911 and he hung up the cell phone. The dispatcher called back and spoke with the boyfriend and told her it was fine, she believed him because he said he was a paramedic and hung up and no help was sent. Is that normal to take ones word for it when there is a person yelling for help in the background or did the dispatcher drop the ball? How much of your job is based on judgement vs. protocol?
No no no no! Bad dispatcher!
If someone says they're being attacked, the proper response is to send law enforcement and EMS and let them sort it out. We as dispatchers should never, ever make decisions like that.
The only time we don't send EMS is if the victim declines it. If someone says they were being attacked, there's no way in hell we would cancel law enforcement. Even if the victim is just making it up to get someone in trouble, that's not our judgement call to make, that's for the officer/deputy who responds.
I'm genuinely, earnestly sorry that was handled so poorly, and I really hope your sister is okay and in a better situation.
As a manufacturing/design engineer myself, how do I get into the movie/tv industry? What job positions should I look for?
How much do you want to punch your coworker when they suggest it might be a quiet shift?
Don't you jinx me, you bastard!
As a young adult trying to make it in the film industry in LA, where should I start and what should I avoid? Thank you!
12 hour shifts? Do you do that regularly or just sometimes?
Sorry. I started in architecture and NASA projects. I really don't know what it would take to get into the film industry today.
It's a rotating schedule, so like two days I work, then I'm off two, but always 12 hour shifts (mine is 6am to 6pm)
In light of Carrie Fishers passing, do you have a personal memory oft her?
When were you the most panicked on job and why?
She was an important part of the film, but I never had the opportunity to meet her. Very sad that she is gone.
The last time I felt panicked, I was listening to a woman scream "god please let him start breathing"
If she had instead came back to the phone I could've talked her through CPR and maybe saved that guy
Something I've always wondered: can you get an address/gps location without having to speak to the caller? For example, say I call 911 on my cell phone and just put it in my pocket without saying a word; can you find me?
If it comes from a landline, we get a location that is reliable in most cases
If it comes from a cellphone though, we might get a location within 30 yards...or we might never get an automatic GPS location (called a "phase 2" plot) which means we have no idea where to send them
How do I report a dispatcher? There was an Uber driver outside my house that wouldn'y leave after I accidentally mentioned I would be home alone for a few days. He was banging on the windows and trying to find a way in. When I called the dispatcher it was this very unpleasant and unprofessional woman who kept asking if I had ordered the Uber driver. Ultimately I ended up flashing my airsoft gun in the dark with my hand over the orange tip, so it looked like a real MP5k to scare him away. When I told the dispatcher he left she threatened to have me fined and charged for prank calling 911.
Call back and ask for their shift supervisor to file a report. If that doesn't work, speak with the county manager!
I can't believe I haven't seen anyone ask this but what is the pay like?
MOst areas you probably start around $30k-$35k, but for big metro areas, I'd be surprised if it wasn't closer to $40k starting out
When calling 911 as an adult, what are the most important pieces of information that you, as the dispatcher, need and what is the preferred order? Does any of that change for teaching children? For example, if I was talking to a child about calling 911, what should points should I stress?
Location, first and foremost.
Then your phone # in case we get disconnected.
Then what is going on/what's the emergency
I know it seems like we should ask the emergency first, but if we get "he's on fire" and no location, then we can't send help, but if we get a location and nothing else, we can still send responders.
What types of situations should we not call 911 for? Do you get annoyed when me call in with non emergencies? How do you handle those calls?
If you are in a situation that you need help and don't know who to call, feel free to call!
We'd rather you call and bother us than have it end badly because you did not call
I'm curious to get your opinion about a 911 call I made for something that I felt was an emergency: I was driving about 25 MPH towards a bridge that led to the freeway. As I merged into the left hand lane a bee flew into my truck and I swerved, almost hitting the car next to me and then came close to rear-ending the car in front of me.
After I stopped and rolled up my window I noticed a sign next to me on the median that was covered with a huge swarm of bees. There were hundreds of bees in the air and it was the kind of day where a lot of people had their car windows open. I felt it was a dangerous situation that was sure to cause an accident or worse, that the bees might sting someone who's allergic.
So I called 911 to report this road hazard and I was curtly told that 911 was for emergencies only and then they hung up on me. I was stunned because those bees needed to be removed ASAP. So who should I have called if not 911?
I would have called 911 in that situation too! I think if I got that call, I'd end up having to send Wildlife Enforcement because Animal Control really only does domestic animals like dogs and cats and farm animals. Yeah, that could cause wrecks though!
Is it ever OK to call 911 from your cell phone to make sure you are routed to the proper call center? I remember people being concerned about this early on but I don't know if it is still a problem.
Absolutely! Just please stay on the line and tell us why you called. Not every call center does this, but we send law enforcement to every 911 hang up, and your call comes through immediately after you hit send, so don't hang up, it wastes time :)
When I accidentally hung up on 911 they just called me back and had me report the accident I just saw all over again. You'd think the CAD would be able to say "this person just called and spent so long on the line with this dispatcher" but I guess it just sticks everyone in a queue and has someone call them back.
Not that I mind the diligence, it's good to know their standard procedure is actually to verify that the call I said happened did happen.
We will tell the responding officer "Joe Smith just called back and said it was a misdial/pocket dial" and it's then the officer's discretion to continue responding or not
Ive always wondered if it is okay to call 911 to confirm an unmarked car pulling you over as an actual police person on duty. Is this allowed? I see so many unmarkes cars now that it could really be anybody posing as a police official.
As I told another caller, all our law enforcement units tell us as soon as they stop a car, and give a location, for everyone's safety. So if it's a legit car, we know about it and will confirm with you
First off, good job for doing what you do and secondly I'm Dutch and not American so things most likely will be a bit different here. Do dispatchers ever try to keep you occupied if you call? Two years ago our chicken barn was on fire and I called the Dutch version of 911. I got the feeling they tried to keep me on the line just to prevent me from doing (possibly stupid or dangerous) anything.
Is that a thing that gets done or is there a big chance I imagined that?
If the dispatcher thinks the caller is in danger by staying on the line, they should tell them to put the phone down and leave the area if possible and get to a safe place.
If there is more information to be gained, or you might hurt yourself/commit suicide, we will try to keep you on as long as possible to help you until responders can find you
What's your favorite call you've had? Weird, I know, but something you know had a good resolution that you helped achieve, I suppose, might be the best way to interpret that.
I gave CPR instructions for a 3 month old girl who made it to the hospital because of it, that felt really good
Have you ever had to call 911 yourself? Do you have specific numbers that you'd prefer to call under the circumstances?
I'll always dial 911 in the US. The way the service is set up now, it's national and available everywhere. 10 years ago, that wasn't the case, but it is leaps and bounds better now and always improving
How long have you dispatched? How often do people call by accident? What call turned out to be the most rewarding?
I've been with this agency for a few years now, almost five in total in the job.
Accidental hang up calls are and will always be our most common call, haha
Any time we guide someone through giving CPR and the patient survives is extremely intense and extremely rewarding because we literally just saved a life
So sometimes kids call 911 for funny reasons simply because they don't know any better or they perceive something to be more of a problem than it actually is (for example, "I need help finishing homework." Have you ever had calls like this and if so how frequently?
Haha, sometimes we get kids who "prank call" and call us names or swear at us (I had a kid say "crap you, you bastard" then hang up)
We send law enforcement :)
Are you certified with anything medically? I would assume something like CPR right?
I'm CPR certified but that's it. Some people end up in dispatch after being an EMT/Firefighter/Officer, but none of that certification is required
If I call in and once you answer I blurt out something like, "A minivan just ran off highway, rolled down hill, Highway X, mile marker Y, send help!" and immediately hung up or stuffed my phone in my pocket so that I could run and help, would that have been helpful or useless? Would I be better off standing there talking to you? Do you have everything I said on recording to go back and re-listen if I blurted too fast? Do you often replay recordings as part of a dispatch effort?
With the highway and mile marker we would send fire and ems immediately, and hopefully they would find the accident!
We can go back and re-listen, and we hope you are correct when you give us that info! Sometimes people say one location and really they are a few miles past it, it's just the last thing they saw