Marine Corps Police Department aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany celebrates National 9-1-1 Education Month to prepare active-duty, civilian-Marines and military families for emergencies. The theme for April’s campaign is “don’t stall, make the call.” The goal of this month-long campaign is to educate base personnel about how and when to dial 9-1-1.
“When you need help call for help, don’t hesitate. We have an expression that we use in dispatch … when in doubt, send them out,” Brandi Mitchell, dispatcher, Marine Corps Police Department, MCLB Albany, remarked.
For the past three years, Mitchell has been in the business of helping others.
“My dad was a police officer. My mom was a nurse … helping people, serving people that’s kind of my passion in life,” Mitchell said.
And it’s the very reason why she wants to get the word out about the proper use of 9-1-1.
In 2008, Congress established April as National 9-1-1 Education Month. According to MCPD Chief Sean Lamonzs, since 2016, MCLB Albany has implemented several consolidated equipment and software enhancements to provide a standardized level of rapid emergency response services.
“This is what 9-1-1 is, it’s a tool for you to use,” Mitchell added. “If you’re in trouble, if you’re hurt, if there’s something happening that you feel life (or) property (are) in danger or someone is sick, use this number.”
This year marks 51 years since the first 9-1-1 call was placed. Since that time, 9-1-1 usage has become the universal number for all emergencies. To combat misuse of the resource, it is critical to increase the awareness of the proper use of the emergency number to ensure fire, medical and law enforcement resources are available to those in need.
What’s an emergency?
“An emergency … something that is happening right now … so if it’s a hit and run … if it’s a fight … something that when (police) get there they can diffuse the situation and investigate and find out what’s going on,” Mitchell explained.
Bottom line, anything with urgency that may threaten life or property or a medical situation warrants a 9-1-1 call.
On a 12-hour shift, dispatchers may get one or two 9-1-1 calls which averages about 30 in total each month. Many of them are medical assists that range from hit-and-runs, car accidents or damage to property reports. But often times, Mitchell said base personnel abuse the number.
What’s a non-emergency?
“If it’s something that happened last week, it’s not an emergency,” Mitchell remarked. “I’ve had too many calls where people call me and they were like, ‘ooh, let me tell what happened last month.’”
Other non-emergency calls include questions about sponsoring someone on the installation or a general question on the base opening or closing or a request for a police report.
“There’s no consistency to (non-emergency calls but) there are enough people who don’t know the number,” Mitchell added.
Base personnel with emergencies should follow these steps when dialing 9-1-1.
Proper protocol during emergency
- When speaking with the dispatcher, remain calm. Give the dispatcher your location, name and phone number.
- Briefly describe the emergency (fire, injury, crime, etc.) and what type of assistance you need.
- Be prepared to provide detailed information on where you are so that help can get to you as quickly as possible. If the location of the emergency is difficult to find, give the dispatcher a landmark where you or someone will meet the first-responders to guide them to the location.
- Until you are instructed to do otherwise, stay on the line so you can provide any necessary information or assistance to the 9-1-1 call taker. Even if you accidentally call 9-1-1, don't hang up. Inform the call taker that you dialed accidentally and that there is no emergency. In taking these steps, you improve the safety, security, readiness and resilience of you and those around you.
“It’s very important that a person is specified to call 9-1-1 because what (happens is) when there’s a medical emergency in the warehouse, everybody hears about it and everyone starts to call about it,” Mitchell explained. “We have four 9-1-1 lines and they all light up … and that delays (police officers and medics to respond).”
- 9-1-1 – Base phones (639 prefix)
- 229-639-5911 – Cell phones, phones located in Base quarters and other commercial phones aboard the base (recommend placing this as a speed dial number on your phone)
Note: When simply dialing 9-1-1 from a cell phone or other commercial numbers on the installation, the call will be routed to the Albany/Dougherty County Dispatch Center located outside the Installation, the caller will need to tell the emergency services dispatcher that they are located on the Installation if that is where the emergency is located. The Albany/Dougherty County Emergency Dispatch Center will then transfer the emergency call to the MCLB Albany Emergency Dispatch Center.
Remember improper use of 9-1-1 system ties up resources and can interfere with emergency services response times.
Other 9-1-1 resources
READY Marine Corps at www.ready.marines.mil or follow #ATREADYUSMC on Twitter, and like it on Facebook www.facebook.com/readyusmc.