Calling 911

What to Expect When You Call 911
The Jefferson County E-911 Communications Center stands ready to assist the citizens of Jefferson County. The following information is designed to help you understand the processes involved in making reports, giving descriptions and what to expect when you call 911.

When you call a friend or family member, you usually know what you are going to say. But when you need a response from the public safety personnel, it's hard to know what to say. Our Telecommunicators will ask you a lot of questions that you may think are unnecessary.

Those questions are asked for a good reason. Telecommunicators are not with you, physically, and can't see what is happening. We need to ask those questions so that we can get all the information for the public safety personnel. It will help tremendously if you answer the questions as they are asked, avoiding any temptation to anticipate questions or interrupt the Telecommunicator. Telecommunicators and public safety personnel depend on you to be their eyes and ears.
Describing a Person
Example of a Good Description:
White male, late 20's, six foot, 180 pounds, black hair, dark blue coat, light blue tie, and dark blue pants.

Telecommunicators will ask many questions, but some of the most important relate to descriptions. We can't see or hear what you, the caller, can. We need you to paint a picture with words; a picture that we can relay to the public safety personnel.

When describing a person, always remember to start with race, sex and approximate age of the person. For example, "White Male, about 30." Then describe the person's height and weight. For example, "Approximately six foot, 200 pounds." Then describe the person's clothing from the head and go to the feet.
Description Items
Head-to-Toe Survey
This is sometimes referred to as the "Head-to-Toe" survey. Start with the hair color, or if the person is wearing a hat describe the hat. Next describe the person's eye color. Then describe the person's complexion. For example, "Fair" or "Dark" etc. Then lastly, describe the person's distinguishing marks, such as scars, marks or tattoos.
Describing a Vehicle
Telecommunicators will ask many questions, but some of the most important relate to descriptions. We can't see or hear what you, the caller, can. We need you to paint a picture with words; a picture that we can relay to the public safety personnel.
There are certain questions that a Telecommunicator will ask regarding vehicle descriptions. These descriptions are then passed on to the public safety personnel so that they can identify the vehicle should it leave the scene of a crime.

We use the acronym CYMBOLS when describing a vehicle.
  • Color (blue, or if two-tone, white top color over red the bottom color)
  • Year (1996)
  • Make (Dodge)
  • Body style (2 door, 4 door, pick up truck, extended cab)
  • Other attributes (this would include damage or other marks that make the vehicle unique)
  • License plate (CCC-9111)
  • State (Georgia)
Reporting a Fire
When you should call for assistance:
  1. When you smell natural gas
  2. You see a trash can or dumpster on fire
  3. You see a house on fire
  4. There is a person trapped in an elevator
  5. You see grass or woods on fire
  6. You see a vehicle accident
Fire Fighters
Telecommunicator may ask these questions when you call:
  1. Where is the fire?
  2. What is on fire?
  3. Is there anyone trapped or injured?
  4. How close is the fire to another building or structure?
  5. How fast is the fire burning?
  6. What size is the fire?
  7. Did you see anyone start the fire on purpose?
  8. What did they look like?
  9. Are they still there?
  10. Which direction did they leave?
Fire Department/EMS Cooperation
Some fire departments also respond to calls with EMS. An example of this would be someone having a heart attack. Those fire departments that are dispatched to medical calls have specific training and equipment to help citizens in an emergency medical situation. Sometimes the fire department response time may be several minutes faster than the EMS because they are usually closer. This can make a difference in life or death!
Gold Cross Ambulance
Telecommunicator Questions & Instructions
Please remember to listen for the Telecommunicator's questions and answer them as accurately as possible. Also, remember to listen for and act on any instructions the Telecommunicators may give you, such as "Evacuate the building!"

Telecommunicators routinely handle hundreds of calls for service each day. Their dedication, professionalism, and experience provide them with the background to render aid and comfort callers from our community. Each and every call for service is important.
Call Process & System
The Jefferson County E-911 Communications Center uses the Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) system that was developed by Dr. Jeff Clawson in the 1980s. You may have seen this system being used on the TV show "Rescue 911."

After the initial 911 call-taking process discussed earlier, the Telecommunicator will ask other questions to obtain more information.
911 Telecommunication System
By using the EMD system to prioritize medical calls, the Telecommunicators have to ask a series of questions according to information that you tell us (what's wrong with the person).

This system also provides the Telecommunicators with the instructions that will be given to you so that you can provide emergency medical assistance to the victim of a medical emergency until the public safety personnel can arrive. For example, the Telecommunicators can give you instructions in CPR, childbirth, choking, etc.