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Melody Schubert

911 Celebrates 36 Years Of Saving Lives Across The Nation.
By Melody Schubert
Jul 15, 2004 - 12:48:00 PM

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The three digit telephone number, nine-one-one, provides the Americans with direct access to an emergency answering center, also known as a local public safety answering point (PSAP). Because Americans throughout country have taught their children how to use 911 many lives have been saved simply by dialing the three digit number.

Great Britain was the first country to implement their own universal emergency telephone number, 999. Here in the United States, February 16th 2004 was the 36th anniversary of the first 911 call made in Haleyville, Alabama in 1968 by State Senator Rankin Fite, who called from the office of Mayor James Whitt. The call was answered by US Representative Tom Bevill in the Haleyville police department, and is still in use today in Haleyville. Since then people with a crisis have been able to call for help from practically any location at all hours of the day.

For anyone in an emergency a call to 911 can be the difference between life and death. In the case of some one having a heart attack or stroke immediate medical care is vital. Half of those suffering a heart attack experience typical symptoms like heavy chest pressure. Others may experience shortness of breath, sweating, a feeling of indigestion, and pain in the neck or jaw. A small percentage of people have no symptoms, but will suffer the same irreversible damage if they do not seek immediate medical attention at the first sign of a problem.

When to call for help:

  • Call 911 in the case of a life-threatening emergency when a person or child has shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or has stopped breathing completely.
  • If someone is choking, has constant chest pain, especially when lasting longer than two minutes were adults are concerned.
  • Should someone suffer from uncontrollable bleeding, vomiting blood, drug overdose or poisoning, or drowning. The 911 staff can offer guidance when someone is suffering from convulsions, seizures, suffer a severe allergic reaction, major burns, or during a car accident until an emergency crew arrives.

What to tell a dispatcher when you call:

  • Let the 911 call handler know what is wrong and where you are located. Give them the address; include building number and name, apartment number, and the nearest cross street if you know it. Descriptions of landmarks that stand out are also helpful.
  • Try to remain calm and tell them the age and number of people who need help if you can, and if they're conscious or breathing. The 911 call handler may ask other questions if they need more information related to the crisis.

Here are several other tips to keep in mind when faced with a crisis situation:

  • Do Not Enter your residence or business if you feel that it has been burglarized. Go to a neighbor or nearby business and call 911. Give the call taker your street address, and if in a large building, the floor and suite number, then let the police will then conduct a search of the property. If you do enter the building, avoid touching things unnecessarily or else you could disturb or destroy fingerprints and other evidence needed by investigators. Have serial numbers and complete descriptions of all missing property, and let the police know of any items you may have engraved with a personalized number. Survey the surroundings and let them know of anything that does not belong to you. Burglars have been known to leave such evidence as tools and clothing behind at the scene.
  • If confronted by a thief do not do anything to jeopardize your life. Money and possessions are not worth losing your life. Do what is requested and focus on obtaining an accurate description of the suspect and what direction they went, whether on foot or in a vehicle. Any details you can provide may help the authorities catch the suspect and possibly return your possessions. If going into an area known for trouble or traveling in unfamiliar territory carry a second billfold a small amount of cash in it or other cards which may look important. Give this to your attacker, who'll hopefully take the goods and run. Keep your real cash and cards in a safe place like an interior pocket or secured away from sight.

Help is just a phone call away.

Across the country cities have modified their existing emergency reporting systems to accommodate the number that's primary's purpose is to preserve life and property. Many systems are now equipped to displaying the phone number, the name of the person calling, and their addresses. With such enhancements available, 911 call takers are better able to help emergency crews find you when you're in trouble even if the call is lost.

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Melody Schubert
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