Started taking calls with my new trainer in my ear on Monday night. Took more calls that night than I did all of last week, but I still appreciated getting our feet wet early on. I wasn’t nervous and I think that’s the result of 10 weeks of academy preparation. People called, gave their situation, and I got help started.
Obviously, I am light-years from being a smooth operator, so to speak. 911 calls are different than technical support or customer service calls in several key ways. If you call Microsoft for technical support, before you get to a technician they’re going to narrow down the need for your call. You’re calling about a PC product, you’re calling about Office 365, or whatever, and the tech is going to have some sense of what the problem could be before speaking with you.
With 911 calls, we always want the address, but sometimes we need to know if you need police, fire, or medical first so we try to get that information out of the way. My trainer said I’m doing fine, but I feel like I let that singular piece of information take too long. She agrees, but says for day 1 and 2, I’m doing great.
If you ever have to call 911, and I hope you don’t, when the probably-overworked call taker answers you, please say something like, “I need medical help” or “I have a fire alarm” or “I need police.” A short phrase to let us know how to begin the call. We do not need to hear that yesterday you and your boyfriend were having an argument about returning the barbecue grill and he’s a little upset about it and tonight he caught you texting his best friend and now he’s mad at you oh and he’s in the bedroom and he has a gun.
That’s a lot of precious seconds wasted. “My boyfriend’s angry and he has a gun.”
And now we know how to start the call. I can get all kinds of information going after that, but as soon as I know your boyfriend is upset and armed, I can get your address and get the police on their way. I can get follow-up details, too, provide emergency instructions, and even get medical help standing by in case the call takes a bad turn.
In fact, I can do all of that in the same time it took to tell me the long-winded version. I really like Twitter and part of the appeal is the enforced brevity. In emergency communications, being concise is great. We type in abbreviations because it saves time. Time is brain, time is life, time is fire in public safety!
This post is certainly not concise, but I’m not on duty. I’m decompressing and thinking about work and what I’ve learned and what I can still improve. There’s a lot to improve, but again…it’s only day 2.