So for the people never called 9-1-1 before, the procedure is:
- You go to our single PSAP no matter what number in the 603 area code to ether a Concord or Laconia center. Both locations staffed at the max under 20 even during peak “drive time” hours to about eight total at night. (It was to my own surprise that the max of each call center can max to 22 operators at each location, which totals to 44. This has never happened.) Despite so many people of my generation never returning to the Granite State, there is a growth of population, and given the weekend population throughout the tourist locations, it’s a surprise that a state agency can handle that with so few “telecommunicators” as the state calls it.
- They ether verify or ask for your location and number. Names aren’t relevant I suppose. The location is to ensure they are going to the right place, and secondly the number is to ensure a call is disconnected that they will ringback. Unlike private sector call centers, the 9-1-1 call is tied to that call taker until s/he drops the call. The way this works, if I am not mistaken you hang up, a few seconds later 9-1-1 will ring back, essentially calling you immediately. Essentially callbacks in emergency services are immediate wheras a customer service/support line may take a few minutes.
- 9-1-1 calls shouldn’t under most circumstances be overwhelmed where you get a busy signal, but you do go into a queue if there is an overload of calls. Don’t hang up because if you do get next on the queue, they will automatically call you back!
- They ask for your type of emergency. For the youngins out there; this 3-digit telephone number is for Fire, Medical and Police. If your call is medical, the E911 telecommunicators will go through an Emergency Medical Dispatch procedures. If you remember the days of Rescue 911* with those reenactments, they used to pull a flip chart. It’s now electronic. Despite the fact; there is specific set of questions to ask in the proper order; if the victim is breathing; having a heart attack or gagging on something; even childbirth or something worse. Some have considered this the “interrogation” of a 9-1-1 call.
* As I write this; I still can’t get over the irony that a few years after Rescue, Shatner lost his wife in a drowning situation but the 9-1-1 tapes clearly showed he didn’t do anything he learned on a show he hosted for almost a decade! About a decade ago, a Boston PM drive talk show host would play the tapes for a while for comic relief. C’mon, I had to be sassy at some point in this theme!
- The local dispatch centers start to get wind of an emergency. It varies town by town, my town has a single dispatch for police and fire, my other town I grew up still has two separate dispatch facilities. There are monitors hardwired via a private Internet link back to the State that shares the same screen the telecommunicator is seeing. It’s at the town’s discretion whether to send help; ring the bells and whistles or just arrive at legal speed limits without bells and whistles.
- The state “bridges” the call between the 9-1-1 and the local dispatch. This means you will hear voices throughout the entire call, and no tones. In other states you may hear tones or ringing. For a layman end user, that’s not very promising. In the commonwealth of Massachusetts, if you call the statewide PSAP via your cell, they’ll most likely “trunk transfer” your call. What’s that? If you hear ringing, that’s what they are talking about. But will Fletch and the FCC do anything? Of course not! They hate business!
- Now the emergency response should be responding at someway at this point