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Miami-Dade 911 operators are trained to help you get through the call and they understand that you are under unusual stress. They will guide you through the process, but it helps to know how the system works.
When you dial 911 from a land line in Miami-Dade County, it gets routed to the appropriate regional 911 receiving center. The address that you are calling from will automatically come up in the system, but the operator will ask you for the address anyway for verification, and in case the emergency is not at the exact location that you are calling from.
If you are calling from a mobile phone, the routing is tricky because many cellular phone systems will trace your number back to the closest cell tower, which might not be anywhere near your actual location. When calling 911 from a mobile phone you should be prepared to give an exact address if possible, or a very good description of your location.
Your call will be received by a 911 operator who will ask basic information first, including:
- The nature of your emergency
- Your name
- The address or location of the incident
- A call-back number
Immediately upon receiving the basic information, the call is routed to the appropriate department dispatchers, either fire rescue or police but sometimes both. They dispatch the assignment needed for your emergency, even while you are likely still on the phone with the 911 operator, who will continue to ask more detailed questions about your emergency. Remember that help is already on the way at this point. Many callers get frustrated and panic because they think that all the questions are slowing the response. The answers to these questions will allow dispatchers to update the rescuers with additional information while they are on the way, which will help them handle your emergency more efficiently.
Police and fire rescue dispatchers from Miami-Dade's 911 Communications Center are trained to reassure callers and help them get through the process of giving important information during stressful situations, but you can help by being prepared, and keeping the following tips in mind:
- Try to remain calm and speak slowly so you don't have to repeat things.
- Pay close attention and follow the operator's instructions even if they don't make sense to you at the time. You might not be able to see the big picture the way the operator does.
- When you give the incident address, make sure to include helpful information about how to get there such as a development or complex name, nearby landmarks or other special instructions, especially if there are canals in the area or if there is only one way to get to the location.
- If a security code is required for entrance, be sure to tell the operator. This is a common hurdle for rescuers that can cause serious delays.
- Make sure pets are put away.
- If possible, try to have someone outside to meet responders and show them the way to the incident.
- Have your address and other important emergency information printed on a card that is easily located during an emergency. It is hard to remember the simplest information under extreme stress, but you will be able to read it.
- Teach children how to dial 911 and give their address and phone number.
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