When you call 911, the emergency dispatch operator will ask what, where, and who
questions such as:
"What is the emergency?" or "What happened?"
"Where are you?" or "Where do you live?"
"Who needs help?" or "Who is with you?"
You may feel panicky, but try to stay in control. The operator needs the answers
to these questions to decide what type of emergency workers to send and where to send
Give the operator all the information you can about what the emergency is and how
it happened. If someone is unconscious or has stopped breathing, the 911 operator
may instruct you on ways to help, such as giving CPR if you're trained to do so.
Other Things to Know About 911
You know to stay calm and speak slowly and clearly so that the 911 operator can
understand you. But you also need to stay on the phone and not hang up until the operator
says it's OK. That way, you can be sure that the operator has all the information
needed to get help to you fast. TV and the movies make it seem like operators can
trace where a call is coming from, but that's not always the case.
Emergency dispatchers stress that you should never call 911 for your pets, for
information, or to do routine stuff like pay a traffic ticket. Rules about 911 are
strict because a non-emergency call could delay sending emergency services where they're
really needed. This is why dialing 911 as a prank is a crime in many places.
If you're ever in doubt and no one is around to ask, it's better to call 911 and
let the operator decide if it's a real emergency.
When Someone's Been Hurt
Don't try to move a person who is unconscious after having an accident. He or she
may have a neck or other spine injury. Call 911 or get help. If the person is not
breathing and you know CPR, have someone else get help while you take care of the
If the person is bleeding, put pressure on the wound
with a cloth or piece of clothing to slow the blood flow. Don't try to clean the wound,
though, as this could do more damage. Wait with the person until help arrives.
Don't rush to help someone if you have to put yourself in danger — for example,
if the victim is in the middle of a road. Make sure it's safe before you try to get
to the person and help.
An injured person who is conscious could still be at risk for an internal injury.
In some emergencies, people seem fine at first but end up having problems later on.
So it's a good idea to call 911 or take the person to the emergency department to
get checked out. Someone who is disoriented, feels sick, or has a headache might have
a concussion or other head injury.
If you're babysitting or caring
for someone with a health condition, you need to be ready for emergencies. These tips
that can help you respond right away if something happens:
Make sure there's a list of emergency numbers. Keep one posted somewhere it's
easy to see (like on the refrigerator) and near each telephone in the house, if there
are landlines. Program important numbers into your phone.
Keep on hand numbers for adults you should call. If you're babysitting, make sure
you have the number and location where the child's parents will be. For a true emergency
— a child you're caring for has stopped breathing, for example — always
call 911 first and then call the parent.
If you're looking after someone with a health condition, know when the person
needs to take any medicines. Have the person's insurance information on hand in case
you need to rush to the hospital. It's a good idea to keep all this information written
down so that you can find it quickly if you need it.