County details how to properly use 911 system

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The summer months mean an increase in volume to the 911 call system and Erie County Commissioner of Central Police Services John Glascott is reminding residents to use the system properly.

Residents with non-emergencies are advised to call their police agency’s seven-digit phone number. When people need to call 911, they should plan to answer some basic questions for the civilian call takers.

According to Glascott, call takers will cover the basic 4 W’s with all callers: where, what, who and when:

  • Where? This may include more detailed information than just the street address. This information may include apartment number, floor, suite number, or even the color of a house. This may make it easier and quicker for responders to find callers.
  • What? This is the basic information defining the nature of the incident. Callers should be as calm as possible while being as specific as possible about the immediate problem. It can make the process longer if the call taker is trying to understand an excited or hysterical caller.
  • Who? The call taker may ask for information to help responders identify suspects. These questions can include physical and clothing descriptions, names (if known), vehicle description and last known location or direction of travel. They may also ask the caller’s name and phone number in case officials have to call back, or the responders need to talk to someone who actually saw what happened. Callers are not required to give their name.
  • When? It makes a difference if the incident is in progress, just occurred or happened some time ago. A specific time frame is important for appropriate response.
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