An emergency call rings into the University Police Department's dispatch center. “A man is choking on pizza in the College of Arts and Science building, third floor. Abdominal thrusts aren't clearing his air passageway—please send help.” The call is disconnected.
The dispatcher calls for an ambulance while officers are sent to the scene. Emergency personnel arrive in minutes and hurry to the third floor. “Where is the victim?” A campus police officer keys his radio and asks with a hint of desperation, “dispatch, do you have a room number?” A room number is not available and officers must search for the victim.
Fortunately a person at the pizza party managed to clear the victims airway before emergency personnel arrived.
But had that not happened the time lost by officers searching for the location could have caused severe mental and physical damage, or death, to the victim. This scenario demonstrates the importance of providing clear information in an emergency situation.
Head Administrator for campus dispatchers, Judy Underwood asks that callers be prepared to give the following information in an emergency:
Physical address including room number of incident
Type of emergency
Weapons, if any, involved
Names and descriptions of those involved including vehicle descriptions and license plate numbers when possible.
“Above all else, remain calm, stay on the line,” Dispatcher Joseph Morgan said. Morgan's job is to ask you the questions so don't ramble, wait for him to ask. The best approach, according to Morgan, is to state the reason for the call and let the dispatcher lead through questioning.
Dispatcher Nathan Woods asks that the incident does not get exaggerated. If a situation is a verbal altercation, do not report it as a physical fight.
Don't be afraid to call the police if you feel it necessary. The dispatcher's job is to answer calls and take appropriate action. The dispatcher can be a lifeline in an emergency. Stay on the line.